10 Leadership Tips to Help Managers Strengthen Employee Relations
Looking for practical leadership tips to help you build meaningful employee relations? Find out 10 ways you can strengthen your connection with your team with advice from CEOs, founders, and department heads.
Striking the right balance as a manager to build effective employee relations can be tricky. You have a responsibility to lead your team, delegate important tasks, and provide sometimes tough, constructive feedback – but building positive, meaningful connections with employees is also extremely important.
There’s a reason the saying goes, “people don’t quit the job, they quit the boss.” In fact, data published in DDI’s Frontline Leader Project reveals that 57% of employees leave their company because of their manager.
In addition to retention, leaders who take the time to create stronger employer-employee relationships are also more likely to see the following benefits:
- Increased Productivity: Employees who feel that there is mutual respect between themselves and their leader are usually more motivated and inclined to help reach company and team goals.
- Effective Problem Solving: Team members who have positive relations with their manager know they can bring roadblocks forward without repercussions, resulting in swifter resolutions to problems.
- Honest Communication: With strong working relationships in place, employees aren’t afraid to have open dialogue about performance, expectations, or deadlines.
So, how can you work towards having a positive relationship with each of your team members? We reached out to our network of C-level executives, founders, and department heads for leadership tips and practical advice on how to strengthen employee relations. Read on to find out what they had to say.
Tips on How to Connect with Employees from 10 Business Leaders
Building meaningful and effective working relationships with your team can take on many forms. Below, 10 leaders, from nutritional companies to software industries, share their tips and best practices for forming strong employer-employee relationships.
1. Viola Eva on Being a Team Player
Name: Viola Eva
Company: Flow SEO
“We’ve all probably been in a toxic work environment, where a manager is permanently unavailable, and discussing a pressing matter almost seems like an impossibility. If you’ve heard the saying about ‘starting at the top,’ well, it’s true. Leaders must set the stage through example, so building a connection with their employees will help other members of the team follow. Some of the best managers aren’t afraid to jump in and work on a project right next to the new intern, just as if they’re a regular member of the team. This type of comradery is what gets projects done on time and ensures that there’s attention to detail, resulting in a finished product that everyone can be proud of in the end.”
2. Nate Masterson on Team Bonding
Name: Nate Masterson
Company: Maple Holistics
“Connecting with your team starts with even the most basic of behaviors. Simply saying hello in the office and checking in about their kids, spouse, etc. adds a nice personal touch to an otherwise strictly business relationship. Having regular team meetings allows for some bonding since it gives you an opportunity to talk with employees in a lighter way than having a one-on-one meeting with someone. Also, never underestimate the power of team building activities. Whether it’s simply going out to lunch with some of your team or organizing a volunteer day, seeing your employees outside of the office will help you understand them in a different light.”
Take time away from the office to bond with your employees by participating in any of our fun and exciting team building activities.
3. Ciara Hautau on Taking Purposeful Action
Name: Ciara Hautau
Position: Lead Digital Marketing Strategist
“As a manager, I’ve found it’s super important to build trusting relationships with employees. You are their leader and they look up to you for support and guidance so it’s important that they respect you and feel motivated by you. To do this, I find there are a few approaches to take:
- Listen carefully and prove through action – Employees want to feel heard and understood. The best way to accomplish this is by actively listening. I’ve seen managers who are on their phone or get interrupted by phone calls/others frequently, which really feels disrespectful as an employee. Be sure to put all devices away and have a closed-door meeting so you can fully focus and actively listen to what the employee is telling you. Make it a conversation, make it feel like they have your time and attention, and ask thoughtful questions. At the end of the meeting, show how you care by communicating what you’re going to do to help or support this employee. It’s great to listen, but you can really connect and build relationships by actioning what you say you’re going to do and showing employees you truly care.
- Take a few breaks outside the workplace – We are human! Yes, we are passionate about our work but we also don’t want to feel like machines. I find it’s important to do team bonding outside of the workplace. Our boss had an outdoor terrace that he’d let us work from as a team, at times, and it was really nice to get out of the office and have thoughtful conversations with my peers. We’ve also done lunches outside the office, coffees, and happy hours. I find having this time outside the office really opens up barriers and helps peers and managers to connect.
- On one of their first days, take your new employee out to lunch – In my first week at Fueled, my manager took me out to lunch, and it was a very kind gesture. It was a great opportunity to learn more about him and also communicate my journey and what I’m looking to learn. It was also a great opportunity to show him my personality beyond just my career goals. I got to learn his interests and values and he got to learn mine. I try to do that with new employees too because it really shows appreciation and care towards establishing a trusting work relationship.”
4. Alexandra Zamolo on Relaxed Meetings
Name: Alexandra Zamolo
Position: Head of Content Marketing
“Relaxed, impromptu meetings are a great way to connect with employees. If you like to catch up on Monday mornings, meetings can be much more productive if you allow a few minutes at the start – just to chat and talk about the weekend. It puts everyone in a great mood, which makes it much easier to pivot over to important task or project details. It all really lies in communication. When you have an obvious, open line of communication, it puts employees at ease, which means that they can focus on other important work details.”
Learn how you can meet with purpose and make better use of your team’s time with a training and development program like Effective Meetings.
5. Yaniv Masjedi on Earning Trust
Name: Yaniv Masjedi
“As a C-level manager, I have to set an example for all the team leaders who report to me. A big part of being a leader is developing relationships with the people who work for you. You have to earn their trust before a problem happens. That way your team knows they can trust you when challenges arise – because challenges always happen eventually. One simple thing you can do is physically walk to an employee’s workspace to ask them how they’re doing – without any other agenda. Employees always respond well to this. They know I only came by to see if there was anything I could do to help. It makes it easier for them to come see me when they really need something. We have a relationship now, and they know they don’t have to be afraid to ask.”
Enhance how your team works together, become better aligned, and build trust with our Positive Team Dynamics training and development program.
6. Adrienne Fuller on Engaging New Hires
Name: Adrienne Fuller
Position: Head of Publishing and Editorial
“To build trust right away at Finder, I try to set aside time with a new hire to get to know them when they first start. I’m lucky to lead a team of over 60 talented people all around the world, with two thirds being remote (including me). When I am able to, I try to make a trip to get to know them in person. This may mean bringing them into our New York office to have them meet the crew and work together, or it may mean traveling to them and working with them in their home when they first start. Even if budget doesn’t allow, being genuinely interested in them and getting to know them is one of the best ways to build trust with an employee. I do this a few different ways:
- When they first start, we do a questionnaire where we both share personal insights with each other. This includes things like, ‘What’s your biggest pet peeve?’ and ‘What are you most proud of?’ I’ll always discover something amazing about someone that I may not have otherwise.
- We set aside the first 10 minutes of every one-on-one to catch up and talk about life. Not just, ‘How was your weekend?’ We’ll also chat about what’s happening with their kids, their cat, or their church.
- To encourage connection between employees, I try to refer to other people to answer questions so employees can get to know each other. If someone is stuck on a problem, I’ll say, ‘You know who’s great at that? Roslyn! Do you want to ask her for a 30-minute chat to look at it?’ This connects two new people to problem solve together, and they make a new connection in the process.
The result of this work is an employee that has a trusting relationship with their manager, and also their coworkers; who feels comfortable being proactive to do great work.”
7. Andrea Loubier on Establishing a “Work Family”
Name: Andrea Loubier
“For some managers, connecting with their employees comes naturally. But with others, a little more effort is needed. I think one important thing to remember is that even though this is a work environment, it can make your employees feel appreciated if you make an effort to connect with them on another level. If you know that a team member’s child is sick, ask how he or she is doing. If they just moved into a new house, take a moment to congratulate them. I’ve seen a drastic change in performance when an employee feels like a member of a ‘work family,’ rather than just another person in a cubicle.”
8. Nikola Baldikov on Shared Experiences
Name: Nikola Baldikov
Position: Digital Marketing Manager
“At a very basic level, employees are more likely to want to work with people that they know are well-intentioned and decent people, and the only way for them to know this is through a personal connection. The best way I’ve found to connect with employees is through shared experiences. This could be in the form of team building activities, work travel, etc. By engaging with employees outside of the typical office environment, I’ve found it easier to open up and make a personal connection. There’s something about sharing a non-typical work experience that brings people together and gives them space to get to know each other.”
9. Martin Luenendonk on Two-Way Communication
Name: Martin Luenendonk
Position: Co-Founder and CEO
“When there is strong chemistry between both sides, it maximizes personal, as well as professional growth. The exchange of feedback increases learning in a non-financial way. Appreciation is everything. Even if you find mistakes from an employee, first appreciate past tasks; tell them how much you and the organization trust them. Then highlight the mistake and also ask them about their decision. Maybe there is some lack of communication on your end. Welcome their input. Keep your mind open for diverse opinions.”
Help your team become effective communicators and develop both verbal and written skills with a training and development program like Clear Communication.
10. Kenny Trinh on Building Meaningful Relationships
Name: Kenny Trinh
Position: Managing Editor
“In my experience as a manager, I have noticed that when you build relationships with employees and you treat them well, their work output is better and they are more likely to stay … Connecting with your team members doesn’t have to be something extravagant or big. For example:
- Sit down with them and ask them how their day was. Is there something you can help them with?
- Congratulate them publicly on a task they did well or for always being early.
- If you can, sit down with them personally, once a month, for instance.
- Correct their mistakes privately. Don’t humiliate your employees!
- Know them by name. Ask about their families. Let them know that you care for them.”
Better understand your employees, the state of their wellbeing, and what motivates them by honing your EQ with our Emotional Intelligence training and development program.
Training and Development to Strengthen Employer-Employee Relationships
Not every leader is the same! How you connect with your employees may not look like how another manager does. You can find a leadership style that works for you and your team with help from:
- Situational Leadership Styles: Identify your own inherent style and understand how your employees want to be led.
- Authentic Leadership: An interactive training session with business simulations that explore leadership stage by stage.
Developing effective working relationships with your team can be a delicate balance. But by finding your leadership style and connecting with your employees in meaningful ways, from team building, to engaging new hires, and two-way communication, you can create strong connections with each member of your team.
How do you connect with your employees? Let us know in the comments below.
Learn More About Team Building and Training Programs for Your Group
For more information about how team building activities and training and development programs can benefit your group, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.