The question to ask here is, WHY is it important to build strong relationships with your employees? After all, the boss is called that for a reason – shouldn’t a leader give instruction and watch their workers take action? The short answer is ‘no’.
Ken Kesey once observed: “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case”. Best known for his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the American author was expressing the key to leadership, especially in the workplace.
In reality, almost 70% of bosses find it difficult to communicate with their staff. That is why fostering a relationship with your employees is so crucial. So, how should you go about it? What are the repercussions if the relationship between the two is merely superficial and subservient?
Set a confident example
Leadership is something that workers expect, demand and deserve. Being confident and taking your leadership role seriously will create positivity among employees. Ensure that you give feedback, both good and constructive. In the hands of a good leader, constructive criticism is perceived as encouraging improvement. The truth can be difficult but gilding the lily or downplaying serious issues erodes trust over time.
Look to other areas where you can demonstrate confidence and respect. Even your dress sense as a boss is an underrated leadership asset.While Silicon Valley has loosened worldwide attitudes towards workplace attire a good leader will dress at least slightly more formally than their employees, the reason being it sets the boss apart and creates a subliminal air of authority. Holding a relevant qualification in workplace management or leadership will also set you apart and encourage your workers to respect your abilities.
Be inclusive and fair
If there’s one skill that good leadership is built upon, it’s quality communication. Rather than constant emails or teleconferences, it is better to get out and about among the troops. There’s simply no substitute for face-to-face communication. In fact, meetings held in-person can generate an average of 30% more ideas than those conducted remotely.
Equal engagement is important too. Nothing undermines confidence in the workplace quicker than favouritism, real or perceived. Good leaders think twice if they notice that some workers are more demanding of their time. Not only can that time be spent more productively, but it can feed perceptions of bias among staff.
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Leaders are every workplace’s model of success for the staff they manage and are held to a greater standard. Leading by example, while remaining relatable is an invaluable skill. It’s worth remembering that 70% of employees feel disengaged from the business they work for. Your willingness to network within the workplace is critical to business longevity. Providing workers with diverse opportunities prepares them for the next step in their career, and sends a powerful message of confidence in their ability to grow. Promoting competent workers results in everyone feeling more confident in the leaders who do so wisely. In turn, the business will grow, and employees will want to stay and share the journey.
What’s in it for me?
A good workplace leader can improve job satisfaction, loyalty and productivity in employees. These are the ‘building blocks’ that encourage collaboration between colleagues and promote a sense of comradery. A successful business is far more than just the sum of its’ parts. Close friendships in the workplace are proven to increase productivity by almost 50%, highlighting the value of social connections in all areas of life. Fostering friendship at work also makes employees more resilient in times of stress. A business-related diploma can impart effective tools to use for a leader who wants to promote and nurture these type of workplace relationships.
There are many benefits to building strong workplace relationships with employees. Remember, as the boss you are also entitled to enjoy where you work, and benefit from the sense of community a connected workplace provides for all.