Just because you’re a position of power over a group of employees doesn’t mean that you have to be overbearing, feared, disliked and maintain the socially assumed “horrible boss” image. In fact, the old paradigm of a top-down management has shifted quite a bit to a much more horizontal or team approach to working together towards a common goal.
Here are 5 tips for improving your working relationships with your employees. Many of these can apply whether you’re in a supervisory role over other employees or just trying to improve your working relationships with fellow colleagues.
Tip #1: Communicate Smartly. Communication plays such a major role in all relationships that we maintain, including those at the office. Find out how others you come into contact at the office communicate best and be clear in how you communicate with them, including how you best communicate. E-mail can be a double-edged sword for communication at the office. It’s a great way to maintain a record of instructions and other requests, but it’s also a very impersonal means of communication and can sometimes be misread or misunderstood. If written communication is not a strong point for you, see if you’re able to verbally communicate and then follow up with written communication.
Tip #2: Avoid Social Cliques. Social cliques at the office can spell out disaster for anyone that chooses to engage in this, particularly in smaller companies or organizations where it can tend to create a pretty clear divide between employees. Social cliques can make employees feel unimportant or excluded from the group, which will find its way of coming into play in the workplace and towards work-related duties. Avoid gossiping and other behavior that only encourages cliquey-ness.
Tip #3: Handle Conflicts Immediately and Directly. Along the lines of Tip #2, it’s always best to handle conflicts immediately and directly. Conflict that is left to just “fix itself on its own” usually finds a way of coming back up sometime down the road, whether through the form of office gossip or resented feelings towards employees and colleagues. If you do not feel you can personally handle a conflict that comes up directly, seek out the assistance of a neutral party that can help mediate the conflict. People usually just want to be heard, get what’s bothering them off of their chest and hopefully everyone can learn more about where employees are coming from and move on, allowing everyone to put things behind them and focus on goals and working together in the future.
Tip #4: Be Solution-Minded. One of the biggest mistakes people make at the workplace when a mistake is made is finding who is to blame. Who is to blame is not nearly as important as figuring out a solution to the matter. Often times, there are bigger issues, such as failures in systems and procedures that are the cause of many mistakes that are made and issues that come up. Rather than spending time focusing on something as negative as who should be blamed or reprimanded for something, it is far more productive to figure out what went wrong, how it can be avoided in the future, if there’s something that needs to be changed or adjusted to prevent such a mistake in the future and if the lesson can be learned for all of those involved and then have everyone move on to the next task.
Tip #5: Keep Personal Things Personal. It can sometimes be hard to keep your personal life personal, but the damaging effect of bringing your personal life into the workplace far outweighs the benefits that you might think you may have by sharing your personal life with colleagues, bosses or subordinates. People have a natural tendency to make their own judgments and conclusions about people and your personal life may become a reason for discrimination against you at the office. You don’t have to share everything about you for people to like you or feel like they know you. In particular, it is safe to say that you will be best served to stay away from sharing your political beliefs, religion, sexual orientation, financial welfare, social/drinking/drug habits, or relationship/marital troubles.
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Michigan. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @MarkWillDCT.