Which would you prefer: a leader who offhandedly asks about your day or someone who makes time outside of work to get to know and support you? These are two very different leaders. It doesn’t take much searching to find information on the importance of developing interpersonal relationships with employees. Relationships build communication and trust. That, in turn, fosters growth and reduces turnover.
Truly getting to know employees takes more effort than occasional small talk. The goal here is not simply positive relationships at work. We want high-quality relationships. So if you’re genuinely interested in getting to know people, trying new environments is one way to do it.
Organizing social events outside of the office provides an new avenue to interact with employees. From small lunches to full company outings, a different setting helps bring out their true personalities. Getting to know people on a personal level also helps us communicate more effectively about work-related projects. This is because we have a better idea about what makes them tick.
Aside from the obvious benefits for the working environment of less conflict, connecting outside of work has a positive impact on employees as individuals. We all have a biological need to be social. In his article, Positive Interactions in the Workplace, Robert Rosales shares research on how positive, high-quality relationships:
- Increase worker well-being, which translates to enhanced job performance
- Reduce turnover
- Promote individual performance of job tasks
- Increase engagement on team projects
With technology taking precedence in our lives, social gatherings have an even greater importance. Social skills are important for business and for the individual’s well-being. Humans need to interact with people to connect because it provides an outlet for daily pressures and exultations. Additionally, social interaction decreases depression and anxiety. We all want employees who are healthy and happy in their lives because they make more a productive workforce.
Getting to Know Employees
However, time spent developing relationships outside the office doesn’t have to deter from work. In fact, tying outings to work-related projects is one way to motivate efficiency in the office while promoting social gatherings. Some ideas include:
- Reward trips for meeting goals
- Lunches with top producers
- Lunch/breakfast meetings for any occasion
- Team building activities from sponsored walks to game rooms
Investing in employees doesn’t always have to be about work though. Leaders also should be encouraged to get to know employees through activities that have nothing to do with business. For example, going to an employee’s event is often a fun way to show that they are valued and appreciated beyond their contributions to the company. Going to a child’s sporting event, helping with a non-work related social club event, or simply attending a dinner party hosted by an employee can also help build relationships and remove communication hurdles.
We talk a lot about investing in our employees to help better the company; but really, we can be better leaders and create better communication if we invest the time to get to know employees in a more natural setting outside of the office.
For more ways to build interpersonal relationship, check out this presentation from Ohio State University.