Successful and effective business leaders often share notable common traits. You know, things like vision, enthusiasm, and integrity, to name a few. Research suggests however that communication is the number one key attribute of great business leaders. But strong communication skills mean so much more than just the gift of gab. Being an effective communicator is a two-way street and possessing an active, interested, and engaged ear is key to understanding, appreciating, and supporting your employees.
Think about it. How well do your employees know your origin story? You know, things like why you founded the business, the sacrifices you had to make, what inspires you to excel and drives you to grow. Business owners’ backstories are often common knowledge among staff and the topic of discussion at many a team meeting. Your employees likely know your spouse’s name, maybe where you went to school, maybe even your favorite hobbies.
But now ask yourself, how well can you answer those questions about your team? Think about it, beyond knowing their names and titles, what do you really know about the people who work for you?
Knowing your employees and what gets them up in the morning can have a massive impact on company culture, workplace morale, personal performance, and employee retention. Great leaders know that connection creates community. And communities can move mountains.
So consider taking an active approach to getting to know your employees better.
6 Top Tips on Building Strong Relationships with Your Employees
- Be accessible. How much access do your employees have to you on a regular basis? Consider implementing an open-door policy and encouraging an approachable line of communication.
- Take an active interest. Your employees likely live dynamic and rewarding lives outside of your business. Is Melissa in accounting running a marathon next weekend? Did John in sales just lose his mom? Expressing sincere support and compassion regarding the life events of your employees builds trust and connection. Plus it just feels right.
- Be conscious of workplace conditions. Nobody wants to work in poor or challenging environments. While not every business can afford a big renovation or major upgrades, making even smaller improvements to the work environment demonstrates care for your employees and fosters connection.
- Host social events outside the office. Socializing with employees outside of work can often bring about surprising revelations. Who knew that the quiet admin was actually a team trivia whiz or that your tech engineer speaks three languages! Some of these outside discoveries can even actually benefit the business.
- Create an attainable reward system. Implementing a reward system does more than just drive productivity. It also acts as a barometer for how incentivized your employees are, which in turn gives you better insight into work styles and motivation.
- Encourage employee, team, and leadership development. You know that common interview question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Nowhere is that query more pertinent than when talking with your employees. Discussing development opportunities with each individual employee demonstrates your commitment to helping your team actualize their goals, creates a sense of belonging, and builds trust and camaraderie. Not to mention, development programs are great for attaining your overall business initiatives.
Your employees are your most valuable resource and you hired them for a reason. By taking the time and energy to demonstrate an active interest in their lives and careers, you will help to build a stronger, more satisfying company culture in which your people – and your business - can thrive.