As a leader, it is your responsibility to make sure that your team enjoys working with you. Building a strong team takes time and dedication. But it’s guaranteed to pay off when your team becomes strong and productive, and starts contributing to your company’s success. In this article, we’ll be discussing a few strategies that will help you create meaningful team relationships.
Why you should foster positive team relationships
It’s important to have a good relationship with your co-workers. After all, you’re spending at least one third of your time in their company. It’s said that you shouldn’t mix work with pleasure and I agree with that, but only to some extent. As long as you set clear boundaries and you respect the personal boundaries of your team members, you should definitely do your best to make sure working together is a pleasure.
Though, team relationships are not only about pleasure. Or at least pleasure is not the end goal. But enjoying where you work, what you do, and who you work with, is important for your overall happiness and satisfaction. Happy employees are more productive, more creative, and more effective. And positive team relationships are crucial in accomplishing that.
How to build great team relationships
Building solid team relationships doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, trust and a lot of conscious effort. However, the good news is that it’s been already proven that 1% improvements can make a ton of difference. So here are some strategies to start with. You can apply yourself to them in a given time-frame, and then measure the changes and effects in terms of team happiness and increased productivity.
#1 Don’t focus on socializing
Socializing at Christmas parties and during lunch breaks is great, but it’s not enough when it comes to building meaningful team relationships. So instead of focusing on occasional socialization, you should take a real interest in your team members and make sure they feel heard.
Ignoring your team’s opinions will make them feel humiliated and frustrated. Schedule private meetings with each member of your team and request their feedback. It’s important to check in with how they feel about working with you, if they feel accomplished or quite the opposite. Only then will you be able to step in and do your part, so that they enjoy working with you and feel happy about their work.
Don’t forget that happiness at work increases productivity and contributes to the stability and overall success of a company.
#2 Give constructive feedback
Your team members need a leader who can help them grow professionally. Instead of focusing on chitchat, ask yourself how you can help them with their careers. Don’t miss any opportunity to praise your people for a job well done. They need to feel appreciated; it boosts morale and motivates them to keep up the good work. However, you should also be honest and deliver criticism when needed. Just remember to be kind and reassure people that mistakes have the positive effect of helping them grow.
#3 Focus on career conversations
According to Russ Laraway’s Career Conversation methodology, every manager should have three conversations with team members:
- Listen to their life story and find out what motivates them
- Find out their goals for the future and what skills they need to develop
- Develop a career action plan that will help them reach their goals, using the information previously discussed.
Career conversations are crucial for developing strong team relationships. It helps managers learn what is important for their team members and how to motivate them to do the best job possible and have a successful career. There’s no need to explain why having successful and efficient team members is good for your company.
#4 Set and respect boundaries
Of course, it’s great to take an interest in your team members’ dreams and expectations. It’s also OK and even recommended to be friendly and kind to everybody on your team. However, you need to set some boundaries. Friendships at work might not always be a good idea, especially when they involve a manager and an underling in places with a clear hierarchy. It’s not a good idea to have favorites and to treat people differently. If you want to go for a beer after work, you should invite your whole team instead of picking only those who you like the most.
#5 Build a culture of cooperation
Discourage competition. In a work environment where teammates compete against one another, people tend to treat each other as enemies and team relationships suffer. It is your responsibility, as a leader, to encourage cooperation and help people trust each other. Working together has major benefits for everybody involved and brings better results for the company.
#6 Don’t micromanage
Whatever you do, avoid micromanaging your team. Nothing shouts lack of trust like a micromanaging boss. Besides that, it affects team morale, destroys people confidence, and their ability to work autonomously. Assuming that you’ve recruited the best people, you need to trust that they are able to do their job. You could never build meaningful relationships with people you don’t trust and who don’t trust you either.
#7 Respect and be respected
Show everybody in your team the same amount of respect. Don’t make any differences based on their positions, gender, religion, ethnicity, etc. Be polite and never criticize them in public. Respect is crucial in building strong team relationships.
I’m sure there are more ways to build team relationships than we discussed in this article. Which ones have you tried? How do you interact with your team? We are interested in hearing your opinion in the comments section!