What are the most important three words for any relationship between a manager and employee?

No, it’s not “I love you.” Now that would be inappropriate, although not everyone would agree with that opinion. Love their jobs, yes. Love their managers or employees? Eew!

No, the most important three little words are: “I trust you.”

Trust is the foundation that a positive manager-employee relationship is built on. The absence of trust leads to micromanagement, fear, risk-aversion, backstabbing, destructive rumors, a lack of innovation, mistakes, and a lack of engagement.

What does trust look like? It’s all in the eye of the beholder, but here’s a starter list from both the manager’s and employee’s perspective:

When an employee says “I trust you” to their manager, it means:

  1. When I share good news and accomplishments with you, you will let your boss and others know.
  2. You won’t claim credit for my accomplishments.
  3. When I admit a weakness, you will work with me to improve myself, not hold it against me on my performance review.
  4. (read more…)

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” ~ Henry Ford

One way for leaders to develop a strong bond with their people is to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Not just their own work, but the work of their direct reports, as well as their reports’ reports.

Take time to sit in various offices and seats within the organization and seek to develop new skills and make connections on different levels. Ask about existing challenges within the company and develop empathy for those who are tasked to address them regularly. Brainstorm with staff about how best to address these issues to optimize performance. By bringing yourself down to your people, you will gain their admiration as someone who really seeks to know their situations and improve them.

Of course, another significant benefit is the knowledge that you will learn more about parts of the company about which you are presently not too familiar. (read more…)

Collaboration is a powerful tool organizations can use to boost employee engagement. Working together toward common goals creates a sense of shared values and identity, and strengthens relationships among employees and teams.

Those relationships are key to employees’ engagement levels, which is why engagement surveys often include questions about whether people have friends at work or enjoy the people they work with. And working in a collaborative environment can make people more likely to answer “yes.”

Collaboration improves outcomes

Organizations often try to build a culture of collaboration because it can lead to innovation and higher levels of productivity. Exposure to and incorporation of diverse viewpoints as people work enriches the entire environment. In that way, collaboration has a direct effect on the bottom line.

It also has an indirect effect on the bottom line by helping with employee engagement. Collaborative work gives employees the opportunity to show up and contribute, because everyone has an opportunity to be heard in that type of environment. (read more…)

In the midst of our intense discussion, Dom, a vice president at a financial management firm, told me, “I don’t need great rapport, I just want Karl to show respect by doing what I ask.”

Dom wanted to prepare this smart professional for a more senior role and was very frustrated by repeated failed attempts to help Karl increase his business development abilities. He tried pointing out to Karl where his approach was lacking, giving guidance on better ways to create partnerships and support annual planning with clients. But over time, there was no real improvement. Dom attributed the lack of success to Karl having a real attitude problem. When I asked Dom whether Karl felt comfortable with him, he responded, “What difference does that make?”

The key to unlocking Dom’s challenge lies in unwinding the contention that great rapport with employees is not needed. Having employees comply with directives only takes them so far, and certainly lacks the engagement and developmental factors. (read more…)

The best executives with whom I have worked make a point of hitting the road.

Executives who get out of their offices and make treks to the front lines, as well as to customer locations, get firsthand impressions of what is happening, as well as what is not happening. And it’s not enough to show up.

You need to engage. Have real conversations about how the work is going, and especially listen to how people respond.

Ask questions. And, most important, listen to what you hear.

Hitting the road to discover what’s going on is time-consuming and wearying, but it is necessary for any executive who expects to lead with a clear head, and an even more clear vision of the future.

 

John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. (read more…)