It can be easy to lose sight of your relationship with employees when managing a business, amidst all of the difficult day-to-day administration.

Maintaining a meaningful relationship with your employees is an essential part of driving your business forward. A well-led and motivated workforce will be more productive and exhibit higher organisational citizenship.

  • 1. Establish communication channels

In business, as in your personal life, communication is the key to any healthy relationship. It is crucial that you establish channels through which your staff can easily express their thoughts to you and each other. These channels should span a variety of mediums: email, social media, via phone and in person.

It is also crucial that these channels are broadcast to your workforce, ensuring they know exactly where they can go to communicate with you. This should be encouraged and advertised, rather than hidden.

  • 2. Get to know what their aspirations are

Do you know where your employees want to be in 10 years? If not, ask them. This is a great way to harness better understanding of their career objectives and thus their potential role in your business, while showing them that you care about their future.

Act on this information, too. If you know that they aspire to move from one role to another, help them work on training programs to assist this transition. Give them experience in the roles they aspire to. This will not only further skill your workforce, but motivate them to work harder for you.

  • 3. Keep your promises and commitments

A crucial element of building trust with your employees is to be seen as having integrity. Leaders tend to make a lot of promises, but struggle to fulfil them. This syndrome is often referred to as “commitment drift”.

In keeping promises, it is actually a good strategy to make less promises. With good intentions, many managers commit too readily. Focus on making more meaningful, higher quality promises rather than a large amount of them.

  • 4. Inspire with your actions

Needless to say, it is important to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Lead from the front and inspire your employees to work alongside you, rather than merely for you.

If you are unseen in your business, it is unlikely that your employees will develop any sort of relationship with you. Make sure that part of your job involves being visible to your staff.

  • 5. Establish a feedback loop

Many people avoid feedback in fear of being criticised but, in reality, feedback is the best way for you and your business to improve. Feedback should be encouraged, both from and towards your employees.

Establish regular systems through which you give feedback to your employees. While this may seem scary to them at first, it is a great way to show that you have been paying attention to their hard work. It is also an opportunity to suggest ways in which they can be even better.

You should encourage employees to provide you honest feedback regarding your management. Not only will this make them feel more comfortable under your leadership, but it’s a useful means of discovering how to manage your workforce more effectively and thereby harness greater results.

  • 6. Provide incentives and career development

Human relations strategies are well and good in enhancing your relationship with employees but incentives are still one of the most effective ways to motivate and reward your workforce.

Your staff will be more loyal if their work is recognised through rewards, be they fiscal or non-fiscal. A simple pat on the back isn’t the best way to show your employees that you value their work, or motivate them to work harder for you. Rewarding them with a raise, bonuses or benefits can be much more fulfilling.

It’s also important that you provide them a clear path of career progression – something to aim for when working for your business. Your staff will value a system based on meritocracy.

The big questions

Ask yourself:

  • Do I broadcast to my employees how they can communicate with me?
  • Do I know what my employees want to do with their futures?
  • Do I make promises more than I am able to fulfil them?
  • Is any part of my work as manager visible to the workforce?
  • Have I established systems through which I can give and receive feedback?
  • Are my employees suitably rewarded for their hardwork?

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