An excellent way to maintain a positive environment in the workplace and keep your premises populated with motivated, happy, and productive individuals is to cultivate strong relationships between staff members.
However, it is important to ensure that this relationship remains professional to a certain degree if only to prevent distractions and avoid tensions when difficult decisions must be made.
So - how can you build a rapport with your employees that strikes a balance between friendship and professional partnership?
For your employees to trust you, you should first make it clear that you trust them.
Avoid micromanaging or “checking in” with them too often, asking them to report on each other’s behaviour or being overzealous with performance monitoring, as this can suggest to staff that you expect them to slack off when you aren’t looking.
Matrix Diagnostics, specialists in laboratory drug analysis, suggest that this sparing approach should be extended to drugs and alcohol workplace testing and similar checks. These should not be done too frequently and should only apply to individuals in relevant positions.
The more successfully you strike a balance between conscientious management and a trusting environment, the better the relationship between the management and employees of your business will become.
Forbes has previously published a useful article explaining a little more about how this can be achieved.
Many workplaces hold external events such as socials and “work drinks”, and some even cut the occasional day short to facilitate staff bonding time.
“Pizza Fridays” or similar arrangements can help a great deal towards building social bonds between individuals and departments.
Team leaders, line managers and even the owners of the business need to engage with events of this kind. That way, their staff can get to know them and feel as if they are accessible as individuals - not just a signature at the bottom of an email.
Businesses must cultivate an environment where feedback and constructive criticism can be given freely and concerns voiced - either in specially arranged sessions or anonymously.
It is also important for employers to respond transparently to issues that are raised wherever appropriate, showing that they have taken what was said to heart and intend to take positive action to resolve the problems in question.
Your employees need to know that you care for their health and happiness. To that end, good managers should make it easy for staff members to discreetly access mental health support, further training, or other assistance whenever they need it.
Employees should feel comfortable approaching you, their line managers, their HR team, or any other relevant party when they require help.
There should never be too significant a “gap” between employees and management. Ideally, managers of all departments should work alongside members of general staff, interacting with everyone and putting in an equal amount of work.
During this time, it is permissible for them to let go of their professional airs somewhat. The more employees identify with their managers, the greater their sense of loyalty is likely to be.