Within the working sphere, great employee relationships between line managers and direct reports are the cornerstone of a company’s growth and therefore, must be governed with care and supervision, especially in larger organisations where hierarchy is strict.
Similarly for startups and SMEs, a close-knit team is critical to succeed in launching a new product or service, however as compared to larger organisations, they have the leverage of establishing closer relationships.
However, forming casual relationships with coworkers potentially poses a risk, especially if proper guidelines or workplace relationship etiquette is absent. Everything from having that performance review to firing an employee can be more tedious than it seems.
So how do we foster great employee relationships between managers and employees? What should they pay more attention to manage relations with their employees more effectively?
Keep it professional
As managers, we seek for a great employee relationship with our subordinates. We want to ensure they get the job done, whether they like us or not – it would better if they do. We crave for an enjoyable work environment where everyone is cooperative and responsible for their work.
However, allowing the employee relationship to grow more intimate and less formal can result in some efficiency gains, misunderstandings, and work gossip as certain formalities are overlooked or bypassed. They might not take their work seriously which can undermine your authority, your team’s effectiveness, and ultimately the company.
Being close friends with your employees can signal one thing – you’re unable to segregate business and pleasure. This is not to say you can’t have close relationships with your employees and have fun outside of work, but during work, keep things professional and assert your authority as a manager when necessary, so that employees know their place and can grow to respect you as their leader.
Utilise one solid channel of communication
How do you communicate with your employees? Is everyone aware of the company’s goals and which tasks are of priority with deadlines to meet?
Truth: too much of a barrier can make employees feel alienated from upper management.
Good communication between employees and their managers is of paramount importance to the well-being of the company as a whole. Without effective communications between managers and employees, instructions cannot be passed on to teams, feedback cannot be received, and tasks cannot be well executed.
At Attune Press, we step up our communication game with Slack. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s where real-time messaging happens as you work. You create channels (e.g. marketing, sales, PR) and add the relevant people into the channel where everyone is up-to-date of what’s required. You can also easily share and download files and search for them whenever you need it and many more exciting features to make work more enjoyable!
Open communication should therefore be encouraged. This is especially helpful for those who’re shy to speak up during meetings or prefer to share their ideas in private and are more likely to contribute to the team as they view this process as part of the job.
If line managers enforce distance and yet do not have an open line of communication with their employees, employees might feel disengaged and that they’re never well-informed of the changes that take place. This also makes the employees feel a low sense of worth towards the team and the company. With such negativity, the employees become less focused and unproductive.
Keeping employees abreast of the potential changes in the company and giving them a voice is extremely important as you want them to feel valued and that they matter to the company, despite how small a part they may play.
Solutions in resolving conflicts
There’s bound to be conflicts when two or more people work together, perhaps due to personality clashes or disagreements in the methodology. That’s not to say that all conflict is bad; in fact innovative solutions are more likely to arise out of conflict that arises from a diversity of opinions and approaches. What’s more important is how the conflict is resolved.
Instead of allowing the conflicts to drag on and impede the continuation of work, it should be dealt promptly and fairly. As line managers, one should approach your directs first and openly make your desire to resolve the issue as your end goal. Work with team members on the resolution, talk to each of them, be it in private or in a group setting. Allow them to have a voice and allow them to reach out to you where possible.
Show your willingness to help and to resolve the issue, this will ensure that they will be cooperative with the obstacles or challenges which you’re currently facing. Allow some time for your directs to resolve too, whatever it is; all issues should be resolved before moving forth with a project as this is to ensure harmonious post-issue interactions.
Conflicts are inevitable, but they don’t have to end badly and usually can be resolved, leading to a strengthened working relationship.
Avoid playing favorites
But let’s all face it, we have favorites and preferences – it’s human nature to do so, especially if an employee has a trait we’re particularly fond of.
Instead of showing such fondness too openly, a culture of equal opportunity for everyone who’s willing to work hard should be emphasized. Employees should be treated with equal care and respect as well as with equal appreciation in the workspace. Also, at times or situations when you have to take sides with someone over another openly, make sure that your rationale or decision to do so is logical and accepted by both sides.
Perhaps the only form of acceptable preferential treatment employees can get is when they’re preferred for being hardworking, which will encourage a culture of hard work too. However, be careful of encouraging the “overenthusiastic” worker from emerging! A fine balance should be achieved for this so that employees know that all they need to do is to simply do their best within their capabilities.
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