4 tips for building solid leader/employee relationships

How to have meaningful relationships with your staff and still be the boss

It can be hard at the top. You want to get along with your coworkers, but you have a company to run. You have to make the rules. You have to enforce the rules. Sometimes, you even have to fire those who can’t follow the rules.

Below are some strategies to help you cultivate great relationships with your staff while still being the boss.

Start with onboarding. Michelle Baker, the talent Development Manager for FORUM Credit Union suggests you begin at the beginning, by putting yourself out to meet new employees in person on their first day. There is an added benefit when it comes to welcoming new employees. They’re more likely to stick around. She says, “Helping a new employee feel connected to others within the organization will help him learn faster, assimilate within the culture and increase the likelihood of staying long-term.”

For more tips on welcoming new hires, see Baker’s article, “5 onboarding rules for hiring managers.

Make time. Stacey Liuzzo, Public Relations Manager at the Disney Institute says that excellent leader/employee relationships are a priority at Disney. To help foster these relationships, leaders at Disney schedule one-on-one time with their staff. While DiNuzzo says this does include a business agenda, it also is an opportunity to grow the relationship. She says, “Giving employees an opportunity to just talk about their lives or anything that’s frustrating them can do wonders for job performance.”

Build trust. Hua Jiang writing for the Institute for Public Relations says that, “Trust is often talked about as one of the most significant contributors to an organization’s business success.” Yet, in the same piece cites a Watson Wyatt survey that demonstrates that less than two out of five employees say they trust their leadership. Being transparent, leading by example and cultivating good communication are some recommended ways to increase trust.

Address problems immediately. Believe it or not, addressing problems right away can build trust between you and your staff. When you allow problems to fester, you demonstrate to everyone on your team that you’re not an effective leader. Elvin Zhang of Intuit QuickBooks says, “Conflict usually brings about an emotional state of mind in the workplace and decreases productivity drastically. Confronting conflict before it festers and spreads is crucial.”