We're all short on time, but that's no excuse to not make an effort with your staff.
Healthy work relationships take time to develop, something we all don't have a lot of. On those rare moments when you're not answering emails, sitting on a plane or reviewing quarterly sales, you're likely using it to text your spouse to pick up dinner or catch-up on that never ending to-do list.
With little time left in the day, putting in that extra effort to connect with your staff can seem impossible. After all, relationships can take years to develop, making the task all the more daunting. However, it's actually much easier than you think. In fact, it only takes a few seconds.
Whether you're leading a handful of people or a large corporation, connecting with your employees sets the tone for the company as a whole. Culture affects performance, retention, and every other aspect that keeps the business thriving.
So when time is tight and your schedule is packed, how are you supposed to connect with your team? It all comes down to small gestures which make a big impact.
Unfortunately, signing the Christmas card or saying hello in the elevator doesn't cut it. To really connect with your team and lead effectively, start with the basics. Here are three strategies you can try right now to improve your staff relationships. The best part? They take less than 10 seconds.
1. Take your phone off the desk.
Ever been to a dinner when the other person keeps checking their phone? It's infuriating, rude and a complete mood killer. The same message is sent when you do this at work.
Placing your phone on the desk or table before you start your meeting communicates one thing: you're not willing to give your full attention. Yes, your time is valuable, but so is everyone else's. We all know how distracting that little device can be, so don't tempt yourself.
Unless you're a doctor, going without your phone for 30 minutes isn't a life or death situation. It signals that you're present, interested and invested in what your employees have to say. Set the tone of the meeting and leave it behind.
2. Ask for (non-work related) advice.
When work is your only thing in common, it naturally becomes the only thing you talk about. This is no way to get to know your team and break down any barriers that dichotomize you as the "boss" and them as "employees."
People love being asked for their expertise. Especially in topics that they're passionate about. Since you're the boss, it will likely come as a major compliment that you're seeking their advice.
Here are a few examples:
- "Can you recommend any good restaurants I should try this weekend?"
- "Do you have any podcasts you can recommend?"
- "What's the last thing you watched on Netflix that you liked?"
By asking open-ended questions, you could reveal shared interests that take work out of the equation.
3. Leave the computer, bring a notebook.
A laptop is literally a physical barrier. It blocks your presence from the team, and much like your phone, is an easy medium to get distracted by. Not to mention that annoying sound of typing. All in all, it's a bad move.
Instead, bring a notepad and a pen (remember those?). This will not only make you pay attention, but you'll likely retain more of the meeting. And instead of having your head buried behind the screen, you'll be more present and attentive.