Workplace relationships require balance, especially when you're the boss.
Whether you’ve been in a leadership role for decades or for days, there is always room for further growth and development. Many things come together to make you an effective, compassionate supervisor. Getting to know your staff in an appropriate manner is an excellent start. The following tips and tricks are not a complete plan for success, but they are effective tools in being the best boss you can be.
KNOW YOUR EMPLOYEES
Know your direct subordinates and try to know as many of their direct subordinates as possible. You don’t have to know birthdays, anniversaries and favorite candy bars, but knowing your staff’s first and last names is a must. If you work in a small, intimate environment, make a point to learn the names of spouses and children. Some of us are better at remembering names than others, so if you are one of those who aren’t so good remembering name, consider studying some NLP memory techniques.
Take interest in your employees. If they give you information about their lives, be engaged and ask questions. If your employee mentions that she played softball that weekend, you might think to ask where she played or how often she participates in sports.
Avoid asking questions that are too personal. A good rule of thumb is to avoid politics, religion or sex – unless one of those is your business. If you pry or touch on controversial or sensitive topics, you will make your employees uncomfortable, and people tend not to like people that make them feel uncomfortable. Remember that while you want your staff to respect you, you will get a lot more accomplished if they like you too.
Also, remember not to pry. If you are speaking with an employee about something not work related, don’t needle them for information if they aren’t forthcoming. Just because you are someone’s boss doesn’t mean that you can or should know all of their business.
SOCIALIZE WITH THEM
If you find yourself invited to special functions like weddings and holiday parties, do your best to attend. This is a great opportunity to get to know your staff and show them that you care about them and their families. It is also a good time for them to get to know you and see that you are a regular person just like them.
BUT NOT TOO MUCH
Don’t attend every single thing you are invited to. While you want your employees to think of you as a friend, you always need to keep in mind that they are indeed employees. When you fraternize with your staff, you are looked at less like a leader and more like a peer. You also start to see your subordinates as buddies. It’s harder to discipline a bad worker when you see them as a good friend, and it is even harder to terminate their employment.
By all means, attend that Bar Mitzvah, but please, skip the after-work cocktails with your staff at the corner bar. Many companies also have policies against management fraternizing with their subordinates; this means dinner with your secretary may not only undermine your authority around the office, it could also get you fired.
There are many ways to develop rapport and a good relationship with your staff, making you a better supervisor. By getting to know your employees and socializing with them in and appropriate manner, you are well on your way to being an effective, liked leader. Just be sure to keep your interactions with your employees professional and respectful.