As a manager, developing relationships with your employees is key. One of the best ways to develop relationships is to make relationship building more conscious. This is easier said than done!
Why is it so challenging? First off, you might not be a natural relationship builder. You’re not sure about the boundaries in a manager and employee relationship. You feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to say. Whatever the reason, you can change by implementing some good communication strategies. Here are 4 techniques to practice:
- Be mindful about noticing people when you walk around the workplace. Notice how they seem to be doing. Say hello and if you say, “how are you,” mean it! Listen to his or her response and tone of voice. Does the employee make eye contact? Does his or her response fit with what you are seeing? How are you is an invitation to connect so be sure that you want to truly communicate.
- Ask follow-up questions. Follow-up questions indicate that you heard the response and want to hear more. If you are interested, follow-up with “what” or “how” questions. Now you are connecting!
- Ask for more information. If you want to get to the root cause of an issue, you must ask follow-up questions such as “How so?” or “Tell me more’” or “Why do you say that?” If it is a personal issue, it may lead to a constructive conversation about resources such as EAP that might be available to help. If you don’t probe, you might never get to the root cause of an issue. This is particularly important if a work issue is brewing and you have a chance to prevent a disaster.
- Resist the urge to talk. You may have lots to say about a particular subject but if you take up all the airtime and start giving your own examples, it won’t help to build the relationships. Use your best listening skills to ask more questions and really connect. Managers often have an answer for everything but demonstrating it now will only build up more of a barrier.
Remember that employees just want to be seen, heard and understood. Developing a trusting relationship is a natural offshoot of good communication. Using these techniques can help you to get better at a core managerial skill.
If you could benefit from support with improving this skill, call your EAP to get some coaching from a counselor. Relationship skills pay off, particularly if you apply them to both you work and personal life.