Can You Bond With Your Employees Without Compromising Your Authority?

Joe Weinlick
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Great employee relationships can transform your company. They boost morale and increase trust, which in turn leads to better productivity. As an employer, you walk a fine line — you must find ways to bond with your workers while maintaining your authority. With the right balance, you can build a happier, more connected workplace.

Join the Group

Managing a team is hard work. When your to-do list is a mile long, it can be tempting to stay locked away in your office. While this might boost productivity, it creates a barrier between you and your staff. As you're building stronger employee relationships, make a point to become a part of the group. Leave your office door open to encourage team members to pop in. At least once a day, spend some time in the main office area chatting with staff, working at a communal table or holding a meeting. When you're friendly and available, it's easier to bond with your workers. There's no need to give up your office completely — that private space signals your authority.

Keep It Professional

Stronger employee relationships usually require some level of personal disclosure. As the boss, you need to decide how much you should reveal — these boundaries help you stay professional and maintain your authority. As a rule of thumb, it's best to stick to things that aren't emotional or polarizing. You might discuss your marathon training or family vacation plans, for example, but avoid bringing up taboo topics such as politics or your love life. That way, your employees can connect with you, but the conversation never gets overly personal.

Get Out of the Office

Do your employees seem hesitant to build a relationship with you? Your office might be to blame. After all, when you're at work, your respective roles create a certain level of formality. Getting out of this setting and scheduling a team activity can be a big help. Try joining a local community softball league, for instance, or plan a casual retreat at a local mini-golf course. An activity makes it easier to shed your work roles, and the informal setting encourages people to get to know each other. As a bonus, team outings create a sense of fun that can boost morale and create better employee relationships.

Meet One-on-One

Communication is a key part of building employee relationships. Simply meeting with your workers one-on-one can help you bond — it shows them that you're paying attention and that you care about their success. To start, try spending 15 to 30 minutes with each team member once every week or two. Invite them to get a coffee, or simply ask them into your office to chat. This personal time allows you to get to know each other, both as professionals and people. It also helps you understand each worker's goals and style, so you can be a more effective leader.

Employee relationships are the heart of a powerful business. By making an effort to bond with your staff while holding to professional boundaries, you can build a more positive, cohesive team.

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