If one of your employees is unhappy about their work environment, the natural question is to ask, “Why?” Today, many business owners place the onus of relationship development on the shoulders of their employees; it becomes the responsibility of the employee to have a positive relationship with their boss. In actuality, the relationship development process should be on the shoulders of the leader.
Let me explain.
Leaders have responsibility to develop the relationship that they want with each and every team member, both one on one, and as a team.
While many leaders simply lead and let their team develop their own response, communication and accountability with the leader, successful leaders understand the importance of following these five steps to maintain control over the relationship, in order to ensure the interaction is positive:
Let Go of the Ego
Ego is something that can easily break a team; ego causes leaders to point fingers, distribute blame and place walls up where decisions and trust need to develop. By letting go of the ego, a leader is able to develop accountability appropriately and be vulnerable when it counts. This increases trust within the team and models a behavior that employees can appreciate.
To develop trust, a leader first needs to develop a safe and secure relationship where the employees feel comfortable sharing failures, shortcomings, and unsuccessful moments without fear. By opening up a safe area where trust is given and received, a leader can better understand an employee’s strengths and refocus efforts in these areas before they become problems. Trust also helps identify when a team is failing and if one team member isn’t assimilating correctly and needs to be removed.
Hold Off on Giving Advice
When an employee shares issues with a leader, the immediate reaction is to solve the problem by giving advice. After all, leaders are natural born problem solvers and in most cases is how they got so far in the company. However, a good leader knows when to ask the right questions to allow the employee to come to the advice they were originally going to give. This challenges the employee to think outside the box and in most cases, they will solve their own problems. By not having an ego, the leader can feel good about the employee figuring it out instead of wanting to take credit for the idea.
Interruptions are commonplace in the Information Age. Someone is always contacting leaders and managers via email, text, phone, messaging or any other way possible, which means it is hard for a leader to unplug and really remain engaged in their employees. In meetings or engaged in one on one conversations, leaders need to put down their means of communication and show that person just how important they are. The second a leader looks away, checks an email or text, the employee feels less valued and important. In most cases, they will quickly wrap up the conversation and even feel guilty for taking so much of the leader’s time. If a leader needs to wrap up a meeting, they should state this before the conversation starts (start and end time) or before they check the email.
Ask for Feedback
Leaders also need to look in the mirror every now and again. It may be helpful to start a team meeting by asking each team member about one thing they feel they can improve on in their own job or could do better. If a team has trust between each other, this will be viewed as a vulnerable time where they can grow and help each other instead of a session for backlash and put downs. A leader shouldn’t be afraid to ask, “What could I be doing better to help you perform your job better?” This takes some of the focus off the employee and allows the leader to understand areas they could do better in as well.
As always, a leader has a responsibility to model the behaviors they want to see in the office. The office culture is dependent upon watching a leader, since many employees strive to become that leader one day as well.