There are times when my work is focused on the relationships between boss and employee. While this isn’t a friendship in the traditional sense, it is a relationship that involves some care and respect which is useful in order to fulfill the core responsibility of getting work done.
I recently was asked to work with a manager and employee who were experiencing a great deal of friction. There was frustration on both sides and after observing how they interacted with one another, I saw why.
The manager was frustrated with the inability or unwillingness of the employee to submit error free work. The employee was critical of the manager’s supervisory style, knowledge, and project strategy and felt frustrated, unvalued or not listened to. Both wondered separately to me if it wasn’t due to the age difference or the gender difference and both thought that the friction was harming the team.
I shared my observations with each of them separately. In this case the manager wanted specific behaviors and phrases that might be more effective. And the employee told me that my observations were wrong and a week later handed in a resignation.
A few days later, the manager reached out, requesting some time, wanting to discuss what they had done to contribute to the situation and what they might do differently next time. The manager also wanted to talk about how to do a ‘team reset’ because there was little doubt that the employee had shared their negative opinion with the rest of the team.
For those committed to creating or reviving a culture of trust on a team, there are critical behaviors that can help shift the team culture in a more positive direction.
1. Listen to your team
Getting good at not talking and becoming skilled at active listening helps build trust. It is one of the most (in not THE most) effective ways to connect with your employees. Listen without judgement, with you complete and undivided attention and as little judgement as possible. Listen to learn.
2. Admit strengths and areas in need of development
A manager can instill courage and confidence in employees by being honest about what they are good at, what they are not good at, what is challenging for them, successes and even failures. It can inspire a teams’ best efforts, and encourage accountability.
3. Show empathy>
How do you relate to one another? Are your employees happy to see you or do they keep their heads down when you walk into the room? We all have a chance to connect with, share, and understand the feelings of others. Can you understand why someone feels the way that they do? If we can be helpful and friendly with one another we can also learn to care for and trust one another.
4. Tap into the team’s collective consciousness
Some say it ‘takes a village’ to create a successful change and an aware manager knows that some of the best ideas come from employees. Tap into the collective consciousness of the team and create space for people to develop interpersonal relationships with one another. Help people pivot form I, Me, and Mine to We, Us, and Ours.
If you can create an environment where people feel comfortable looking out for one another, the team can take on a broader sense of commitment and security. The best result is a sense of shared responsibility and a team environment that thrives on interaction and open communication — in turn getting better results for the organization and encouraging a happier team.
5. Be genuine with your words and actions
The best leaders are driven, genuine, and passionate, communicating directly and concisely. They intentionally work to foster friendship and goodwill among team members. And above all else, they are trustworthy. Trust must be created, and once created, it needs to be preserved. That means being truthful with your team, even when it’s challenging.
The manager was candid in talking about the need for a team re-set. Together we created an outline of how to move forward. The team was able to talk about who they were now, as well as who they want to be and what they want to be known for. As they identified what they needed to do to start to get there, they established a vision and mission for the team. They also developed a set of team tenets – the principles by which the team would operate. The team also talked about how to hold each other accountable when there was the predictable back-sliding of the team tenets…
The bottom line
Employees put their faith in a manager’s ability to provide a promising work environment filled with challenging experiences and opportunities to grow and develop. They trust the leader to empower and support them, so they in turn can do their best in contributing to the success of the organization. A manager can drive a culture that facilitates openness and trust. The managers who can do that well may find that they work with highly engaged teams, have more fun at work, and see stronger results.
That sounds like a valuable team reset.
One-on-one consulting (coaching) could be the best answer to relationship friction between a boss and an employee. Customized to specific goals and observable outcomes, professionals at every organizational level are taking advantage of the opportunity to work with Joni and develop the strategies and skills critical to their success in the job. Their colleagues are seeing the results If you think this is what you need, or one of your employees could benefit, click here to learn more.
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