Relationship building can sound like something everybody naturally knows how to do. However, it’s important not to take it for granted! Just like you have to take care to maintain good relationships with your spouse and kids, if you neglect to pay attention to the interactions you have every day with your team, your ability to lead may suffer. Even the most naturally charismatic and outgoing people need to put in the effort!
If that wasn’t enough to convince you that relationships matter: Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report revealed that just four in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that their supervisors care about them as a person, and 66 percent of employees say that they would be “likely leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated.”
Now, I’m not trying to say that you as a leader don’t care about your team. Differences in personality, leadership styles, and expectations can cause misunderstandings. Maintain your working relationships with these three strategies:
1) Start on Day One
First impressions matter! And when onboarding a new team member, it’s just as important that you leave a good impression as it is for the new hire. I suggest that you schedule a one-on-one informal meeting with each person you hire. You have already inspected their resume, so now get to them personally! Ask them about their passions, their hobbies. Why not ask them what kind of food they like, too? The more you get to know them, the more you can understand who they are and what drives them. Not only will this help you relate to them but will go a long way to building trust between the two of you.
2) Trust First
Trust is critical, and it goes both ways. You won’t climb very high on a ladder if you can’t trust the person holding it for you. A good team supports each other, and whether you’re on a basketball team or a sales team, teamwork is built on trust. If you and your team are always watching your own backs instead of each other’s, you will have a tough time reaching your mutual goals. Demonstrate to your team members that you trust them to execute their responsibilities and they will likely extend that same trust back to you when you lead them in a new direction. When you respect the people who you work with, you value their input and ideas, and they value yours.
3) Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself
People will naturally trust you more if they can count on you to be authentic. Let your team know who you are and what you stand for. A leader who is constantly “on guard” will have a difficult time going beyond surface-level interactions. I’m not saying that you have to share every detail of your personal life—just let your real personality and passions show through. What makes you unique? Do you love cheesy movies? Are you a dog fanatic? Allowing your real personality and passions show through will humanize you to your team, and people will find you more approachable.