If you ask a random group of people to identify a leadership trait that stands out, you’ll find that most people value leaders who show an interest in employees beyond their work contributions. Even if people do not value that trait specifically, they still appreciate it. Humans, by nature, like to connect; and work should be a place where people feel connected. By playing into the human element, everyone can reap the rewards that come with a more connected office.
The benefits of deeper connections between leaders and employees are innumerable, but one of the most important is the trust it builds. Trust between leadership and employees builds loyalty. It’s much easier to retain a good workforce when trust is a part of the corporate culture. And when changes are made, whether sweeping or small or even controversial, loyal employees are more likely to get on board.
Imagine a scenario when an employee is having an issue, but they fear to bring that issue to their supervisor. The problem will likely continue and negatively impact the employee or department. Now, imagine that the same employee feels a genuine connection with their supervisor. He or she will be more likely to bring the problem to the supervisor’s attention and get it solved. The work continues, and the employee feels valued. That’s because it’s easier to address a problem when leaders have an open-door policy and listen without judgment.
Teamwork is an integral part of success in business. We want employees to feel confident to share ideas and influence to keep the creative solutions to problems flowing. Having authentic connections and trust with employees and supervisors means that they feel safe to speak new ideas into existence as well as address existing problems that may have been overlooked.
An engaged workforce is the heartbeat of a productive company, so how do we make stronger connections to make this a reality? There are a few simple ways to build or strengthen work connections for a better working environment:
- Actively listen
- Ask open-ended questions
- Engage in team-building exercises
- Engage with employees … outside of work
- Encourage attendance at community events
It’s important to remember, however, that some people aren’t very open or available for outside activities. Also, while being friendly with employees is beneficial, work relationships should remain professional so others don’t feel alienated.
Making deep connections with employees involves only a few simple tweaks in behavior, but it can drastically improve company morale and engagement. Encourage leaders and coworkers to get to know one another better, find common ground, and build trust to improve their working experience.