At TEAMES & CO, we have helped many organizations develop stronger cultures, and drive higher growth results. Here are seven practical tips we've shared with leaders over the years.
Seven Tips for Helping Leaders Develop Great Relationships With Their Teams
1) Improve Your Own Self-Awareness
Do you know the effect that you have on your team? Some leaders inspire confidence when they are around their team members. For others, being in close proximity to their team members makes their teams nervous, or makes them feel like you are looking over their shoulder.
Even if your relationships with your team are already strong, you can continuously improve them by always thinking through how your actions and words may be received. At TEAMES & CO we remind leaders, that everybody has a different way they communicate and process information. Sometimes what we say is not heard the way we would expect.
When delivering information to your team, you can look for signs in facial expressions and body language. Do people fold their arms, frown, twitch, or slump their shoulders when they see you? When you lead a meeting, does it feel like there is an awkward silence or lack of energy?If so, ask your team if everything is okay. Ask if they would like clarification or if there is a better way to share information. For example, if there is a big change you are addressing, they may want time to dligent the information and have a Q&A session later. If you continue to notice a potential disconnect, you may want to have a team assimilation meeting, or facilitated session, to gather feedback from your team in a way that honors their perspective.
2) Breakdown Communication Silos
It is all too easy for management and senior leaders to isolate themselves from their teams. This can happen simply based on schedules. A day of back to back meetings does not leave time, so as leaders we need to block time to connect with our teams. Otherwise we risk making a vacuum, and failing to communicate with the broader organization. Soon, a gulf can form between teams and leaders.
When silos develop, valuable communication and feedback loops breakdown. Organizations lose the ability to innovate and teams face greater friction points without the information they need to be successful.
The opposite of siloed leadership is creating a culture of collaboration and innovation.In a culture of collaboration, managers actively work with their teams - brainstorming, and encouraging employees to use their creativity to solve problems and improve the customer experience.
3) Prioritize Listening
Relationships are built on effective listening. To know your team, you must listen often and intentionally. That means asking the right questions about family, hobbies, passions, career goals, etc. It also means you must be an active listener.
- Make eye contact
- Avoid distractions
- Turn off your cell phone, if possible
- Ask follow up questions
- Enjoy their company
Listening well will go a long way toward building relationships and trust between you and your team.
4) Find Ways To Meet One on One
To listen effectively, managers must find ways to meet with their team members one-on-one. This can be a challenge in our busy days, but a must. It gives each team member time to discuss items that are important and also raise items that they may not want to raise to the full group. If you are working virtually, this can be a phone call or a video chat. Try to make some of these informal to ease the stress of continued video calls.
5) Lead by Example
Relationships are predicated on vulnerability. This does not mean you need to share your personal life details, but it does require leading authentically, and for some it may mean stepping out of your comfort zones to earn the trust of their people. When you share your interests, goals, and even fears, you will likely find it much easier to convince your team to reciprocate. If you are facing a challenging time as a team, you can acknowledge that and ask your team to all brainstorm ways you can overcome the challenge as a team. This builds comradery and shared experiences that will help you continue to build trust.
6) There Can Be a Place for Team Building Exercises
If you are going to do team-building exercises or retreats, it cannot be a last resort to fix a broken team. These activities can be used effectively to strengthen existing relationships. However, it is vital for managers and leaders to participate. Sitting on the sideline to "evaluate" team-building exercises will do little to strengthen your relationships.
You also need to make sure that you are fixing the processes that cause friction points and stress for your team. If you spend the day team building but the team goes back to a work environment that is not productive, you will not be able to effectively move forward as a team. It is difficult for a team building event alone to help you solve team challenges, especially intricate ones around communication, processes, and change management. In these cases, we use team building activities for a celebration once we have improved our shared processes. It is a great way to recognize the team's efforts and celebrate success.
7) Build Relationships on Shared Values
You share more than an office space with your team. You share the same goals and organizational values. When managers effectively remove themselves from silos, learn to listen to their team members, and lead by being honest and vulnerable, there is a good chance they will see their relationships strengthened with their team members.
Changing the culture to become more intentional about building relationships between management and teams is not easy. It is difficult to identify your struggles from within. TEAMES & CO can help you evaluate friction points within your teams and leadership, and develop strategies to build and improve working processes. Furthermore, we will help you implement those strategies, so your organization can grow like you know it should.
Contact TEAMES & CO to begin the process of building a stronger, more empowered team. If you’re in the mood for more quiet research, read our article Your Team Must Know You’re Invested in Them for more information.