How to Manage Relationships with Team Members

Relationship-building is a key characteristic of many successful teams and organizations. As a new team leader, it can be difficult to balance the professional and personal nature of relationships within the workplace. This can be increasingly difficult if you are a new team leader lacking experience, recently promoted to supervise former coworkers, or in charge of a new team having to meet new individuals. According to the Harvard Business Review, the most productive, innovative teams were led by people who were both task and relationship-oriented. Here are some tips on how to form effective relationships with team members

1) Be Genuine and Authentic

Team members can distinguish between required small talk or whether there is a vested interest. The first step in developing a true relationship starts with a supervisor genuinely wanting to build the relationship. The supervisor must be committed and willing to dedicate time to better understand the team members, and not assume it will naturally occur with time.

2) Observe Personal Details and Be Willing to Share

It’s easy to ask somebody how they are doing, hear “good”, and then move right along. To build a relationship without being too invasive, ask follow-up questions. A good tip for a new supervisor is to observe pictures on an employees’ desk or wall. If pictures are displayed, it’s likely the team member is happy to discuss a trip or family members that are posted and that helps the supervisor seem more personable. On Fridays, ask if they have any plans for the weekend, and be prepared to share your plans. Employees that are more hesitant, it is acceptable to open up about yourself and allow the employee to find common ground based off your experience or plans.

3) Check In, Ask For Updates, and Offer Help

If you’re having trouble connecting on a personal level, keep it professional. Communicating with team members by asking for an update on a project or task can lead to a productive conversation. As a supervisor, you are entitled to that information, however, be cognizant of your tone so it is not received as a mandatory update, but rather an interest. Offering assistance in any form possible helps the supervisor earn respect from the team members. Even if the supervisor knows they can be of little help, the gesture alone communicates to the team that you are appreciative and genuinely invested.

4) Schedule 1 on 1 conversations

Depending on the office environment, it can be difficult to engage with team members based off proximity to others and overall volume in the office. This will lead to team members being more conservative and possibly less likely to share thoughts or insights. By scheduling a 1 on 1 conversation, you are allowing a quieter team member the opportunity to speak freely and fully hear their perspective.

5) Celebrate and Acknowledge Team Member Accomplishments

Recognition from leadership can have a major positive impact on the employee’s morale. As a supervisor, if you take the time to fairly acknowledge exceptional work, the team member will feel pride and gratitude for the acknowledgement. This can also motivate other team members to work harder towards an accomplishment. Ultimately, this is building trust and a sense of self-value that team members will feel towards a supervisor that is actively engaged and paying attention.

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