HR pros surveyed rank communication between employees and management, recognition by management, and relationships with immediate supervisor as very important when it comes to happy employees. Learn how you can strengthen these connections and create a stronger, more satisfied team.
Benefits of Strengthening These Relationships
Improving the employee/supervisor relationships in your workplace fosters a sense of community that encourages your group to work as a team. This can be a boon to your bottom line for more reasons than one.
Perhaps the most apparent of these is that employees who care about the company for whom they are employed and the people with whom they work are much likelier to put forth their best efforts. This results in not only higher productivity but a better production quality. Another advantage is that employees may miss fewer days. The Mayo Clinic reports that a good relationship between supervisors and workers reduces workplace stress, which means healthier, happier employees who show up more regularly.
Start by Listening
People in supervisory roles are often excellent communicators: articulate, confident and assertive. You know what you want to say and how to say it without mincing words. When building relationships, however, it is just as important that you become an excellent listener. When you effectively listen to employees, they will feel respected and return that respect to you.
In addition, by listening to members of your team not only when they speak to you but also as they interact with other colleagues, you can learn a great deal about them as individuals. Another benefit of becoming a better listener is that your employees will know that they can come to you with a problem or concern and you will happily receive what they have to say and help find a solution. This can prevent small issues from turning into major setbacks.
Consider implementing an open door policy, so that your team members know you are always approachable, no matter how minor the problem might seem.
Establish Attainable, Measurable Goals
If you set goals that are nearly impossible for employees to reach, they may come to believe that you want them to fail and fall short. By establishing goals that, while requiring a fair amount of effort, are practical and can be measured, you will inspire your team to strive for success. Talk one-on-one with each employee or team and request their input on what is a realistic goal, including specific objectives and a deadline that is fair but timely.
Make sure that you acknowledge goals achieved as well, as noted in the following section.
Give Credit Where It Is Due
When you publicly praise your employees for commendable actions, you are inspiring your entire team to strive for exemplary work. Whether it is an idea that solved a tricky problem, a case of someone stepping outside of his job description or simply that one person who always gives 110 percent, recognizing employees is a simple way to build your relationships at work. There are many ways to do so, from a simple pat on the back and a "Great job!" to physical rewards and incentives.
Take it one step further and encourage staff members to recognize one another. For instance, place a fishbowl in a common area such as your break room or conference table. Keep small slips of paper nearby where employees can write "attaboy" or thank you notes to their colleagues. At your monthly or weekly staff meeting, draw one or two slips from the bowl, read the notes aloud and dole out little rewards such as gift cards to those whose names were selected. Stuff the remaining notes into the mailboxes of the recipients so that they can read the comments written about them by their coworkers.
Be Fair and Consistent
While it is natural that your personality will mesh better with that of some employees better than others, it should go without saying that a supervisor should never have "pet" employees whom they treat better than the rest of the team. Never abuse your supervisory power. Treat all of your employees fairly and provide consistent support as well as discipline so that your team members feel you are impartial and reliable.
This step to improve your supervisor/employee relationships provides a feeling of security and trust. They will take you at your word and take on changes in policies or procedures with minimal anxiety, as they will believe you have all of their best interests at heart.
Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Dirty
As a supervisor, leading by example is a great way to improve interpersonal relationships on the job. A good manager will never ask his employees to take on a task he himself would not do. Always be honest with your team and never expect more than you are willing to give.
For instance, if Monday morning staff meetings are compulsory, be the first one at the table --and bring donuts! Look to your employees as advisors who have front line experience and put their feedback and ideas to use. Openly take responsibility for your mistakes to foster trust and inspire accountability from your staff. Finally, when a deadline looms or a situation becomes particularly sticky, show up and dive in. You will be rewarded with a team of employees who admire you and will happily follow your lead.