Civility #2: Relationships!!

Civility #2: Relationships!!

Civility Fundamental #2

My previous post shared the importance of smiling (1st Fundamental) and that a smile is good for our health and our careers. Smiling is also a great way to build relationships, so slap on a smile and let’s get started.

Building relationships in today’s hyper-connected world are proving to be more difficult than you might think. With hundreds of Facebook friends and Instagram followers, why are we having such a hard time with relationships? Because connecting online isn’t the same as connecting in person. Online you can take your time replying to a post or IM, you can Photoshop away any possible hint of imperfection in your life, and you’re insulated to a certain extent.

The insulation is removed when you have a person in front of you requiring your attention and a reply – might be a casual conversation, a disagreement, a question…who knows? However, you do need to be present in the moment and consider how you’re actions help or hinder the relationship.

At the office, the critical relationship is between manager and subordinate and that relationship has a direct impact on employee engagement, along with how well leaders are seen to be supporting the goals of the organization.

While some organizations have moved away from hierarchical reporting most still have at least two or three levels with senior or executive managers, managers, and individual contributors. In most organizations the leaders set the tone and instigate the relationships with staff – this means as a leader – you may have to up your interpersonal skills to ensure the tone you’re setting is engaging and civil. In addition to setting the tone, the leader often has greater autonomy to spend time developing relationships since they control workload and time frames. Oh! And if you need another reason – strong relationships with subordinates is one of the most critical success factors for those looking to move into one of the top 3 roles in an organization.

So as more and more organizations tout the importance of their staff and staff report increased levels of disengagement where is a manager to start? Like the 1st fundamental, the steps are simple, though not always easy. Here are a few tips to get you started in building a relationship with subordinates.

  1. Smile! Since you’ve already started this one – keep it up. Remember the 10/5 rule?
  2. Ask how people are – and wait for a real answer. Don’t keep walking – the 30 seconds it takes to listen genuinely will pay off.
  3. Include “get to know you” activities in onboarding
  4. In person conversations – if it’s going to take three paragraphs to answer a question or provide direction – go talk to the person. You can gain so much more information when you can see facial expressions and catch the tone of voice. It will save you time in the end.
  5. Follow through on your commitments – start small. If you committed to answering a question by the end of the day, then do it. If you can’t honour the commitment apologize and explain and try again.
  6. Help yourself remember – put reminders in your calendar to ask about important events in your employee’s life. It’s hard to remember birthdays, holiday destinations, and the names of everyone’s kids.
  7. Take a walk – around the office in the morning or before you head home and check in with your team. The 10 minutes will be worth it as you get to know people and they begin to trust you.
  8. Listen – openly and without an agenda.

Of course, there is more to developing a relationship that the tips (or reminders) above but we’re focused on the fundamentals (2 down and 1 to go).

 

References

Mastering Civility by Christine Porath

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