How Bosses Can Improve Relationships With Employees

Don't be a bad boss. Use these tips from HR pros on how to create better relationships with your workers.
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Retain your best employees by investing in a positive relationship with each one. (Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

Why do employees leave jobs? Often, it’s because they find better opportunities, higher pay or wish to change their career path, but according to a Gallup poll, half of employees leave their jobs because of a manager.

Employers typically have little say in whether or not a great worker chooses to stay on long-term, so creating positive relationships between managers and their staff can be crucial for retaining employees. In fact, employee turnover can be very costly for a small business. A study by the American Center for Progress suggests replacing a team member can cost up to 20 percent of a worker’s salary.

Instead of hiring and firing left and right, bosses should work to strengthen their relationships with employees to encourage engagement and retention. If you’re a manager, consider these tips to ensure you have strong and healthy connections with your staff.

Related: Facts About Employee Satisfaction Every Boss Should Know

Learn how to give — and receive — feedback

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“Make sure feedback conversations go two ways; ask employees their thoughts and use active listening when they answer.” -Kristina Moris (Photo: Kristina Moris)

Ignoring a negative situation only makes it worse. As a boss, you need to acknowledge problems that arise in the workplace, and sometimes that means having difficult conversations with your employees.

If you and an employee aren’t working well together, address it, said Kristina M. Moris, founder and president of HR consultancy The Washington Firm. “Say ‘Can we talk about what we can do differently?’ and be open to what the employee might tell you.” Graciously accepting feedback from your staffers is essential to building better work relationships, she said.

For example, an employee may be feeling personally attacked when you try to give constructive criticism on her work. Moris recommended asking how you can provide pointers in a way that doesn’t feel like a confrontation but still ensures high-quality work.

Once you learn how your employees want to receive feedback, continuously give it to them, said Linda Strauss of Strauss HR Consulting. “Tie that feedback to their goals and motivations, the company’s goals and the organization’s values. Make sure feedback conversations go two ways; ask employees their thoughts and use active listening when they answer.”

Mentor your employees

One critical way to ensure your employees are engaged with your company is by offering them mentorship and guidance.

Provide your employees with coaching and opportunities for assignments that expand their knowledge and experience, said Moris. “Give them more visibility to key decision makers in the organization. Help them grow and develop. If you mentor as well as supervise your employees, you can have loyal employees for life.”

Related: 6 Ways to Find a Mentor to Help Your Business Succeed

Show them you care about their personal lives

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Show employees you care by remembering personal information such as birthdays or names of family members. (Photo: Liderina/Shutterstock)

As a boss, you may not care to learn about all the inner workings of your employees’ lives, but when a member of your team offers information about themselves, retain and acknowledge it to demonstrate that you are invested in them.

Moris said you should, for instance, remember the names of children or if an employee has a milestone birthday coming up. “I’m consistently amazed at how much people appreciate it when you remember small things about them. People really care about that,” she said.

Related: How to Create a Culture of Kindness in Your Small Business

Keep office hours

As a boss, you cannot sit behind a closed office door all day long. You need to be accessible, so set hours when employees can come and talk to you if they wish.

“Bosses should stay aware of what’s going on around them, and be available to their employees,” said Strauss. “In addition, office hours specifically for employees to pop in could encourage even more interaction, and that’s a good thing.”

Moris said managers should meet one-on-one with employees once a week. Ask them what they are working on, how they are progressing toward their goals, what obstacles are holding them back, and how you can help them, she said. “If those meetings are kept, employees don’t need to pop in as much.”

Realize it’s not always a money issue

You may think your employees are unhappy because they aren’t being paid enough. But most of the time it’s not that simple.

Money is often not the top reason an employee leaves, explained Strauss. “Many managers say they don’t know what makes their employees tick beyond earning a paycheck, and don’t know how to find out.”

Related: 6 Cool Employee Perks Your Small Business Can Afford

To discover what motivates your employees, Strauss suggested finding out what they look forward to every day and what they hope to do next in their career at your company. Ask them what their favorite parts of the job are, what is important to them about the service or product the company provides, and in what ways they feel connected to the customers they serve. “Then every time you coach, connect it to those motivations,” she said.

 

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