We don’t need to tell you just how important good relationships within an organisation are. They don’t only make our workdays fun and increase morale, but they have a tangible impact on productivity, creativity and teamwork. In fact, according to Gallup, having a best friend at the office makes employees seven times more likely to be engaged, and even just a good chum boosts chances of being happy at work. But how do you create an environment conducive to building these kinds of relationships? Here are our top tips.
1. Understand your team’s personalities
There’s few things that hinder great interpersonal relationships more than clashing personalities. While you want your team to be composed of a multitude of different characters (as this weaves complementing strengths and weaknesses together), you should also ensure that these are balanced and work well with each other. But this can’t really be done unless you fully grasp everyone’s personalities in the first place. That’s where personality tests come in.
These can analyse and recognise the attributes of individuals in your office. By understanding this information, your employees would be able to improve teamwork and empathise with each other’s quirks, helping their relationships blossom. More importantly, you’ll get a deeper appreciation of the characters in your division and therefore be empowered to become a better manager.
“The Strength Deployment Inventory® (SDI) helps us to overcome interpersonal and communication issues,” say management training specialists MTD Training, who are well-versed in conducting SDI personality tests. “It provides a framework and a common language for being able to see each other as we really are and to build more positive and powerful working relationships.
2. Make everyone feel comfortable
The key to building a team of friends is, well, doing things that friends usually do. Encourage staff to listen to each other, allow team members to come to you with issues or frustrations (whether they are work-related or not), and make sure you are asking questions. Leading by example, you’ll show everyone how they’re expected to treat each other.
It’s not just about the negatives and niggles, though. You’ll want to nurture a welcoming atmosphere when everything is going smoothly professionally too. Organise team building activities, promote socialising, and even ask your employees if they want to grab a pint every once in a while. Make them feel comfortable around you, and they’ll also feel relaxed with one another.
3. Encourage open communication
While we all technically know how to communicate, the question is whether we do it effectively. Remember the point about the range of personalities in your team? Well, among other reasons, this is significant because people comprehend things in different ways. So, in order to identify the best way to communicate with each other, it’s vital to understand how the other person is going to perceive it.
You might be an extremely extroverted person who needs a message to be conveyed face-to-face with energy and charisma for it to be fully absorbed. This means you’re more likely to do this with your employees when you have important information to relay to your team. However, your employees may be introverts who benefit from logical explanations, and prefer to have them written down.
By recognising these differences, not only will you be able to communicate well (and encourage this among teammates, too), but also ensure that everyone is on the same page, reducing frustrations and enabling an accepting and friendly culture. This creates relationships.
4. Set expectations
So, we’ve already established that communication is crucial for good relationships. It’s also pretty clear why being on a similar wavelength contributes to a harmonious work environment, leading to better friendships. It only follows, then, that everyone on your team needs to know exactly what they’re doing, what their role is, and how it fits into the bigger picture. In other words — offer clarity. A sense of purpose is essential for happiness, which is fundamental for engaging friendships.
This by no means implies that you must be relaxed with what you demand from your employees, though. You can set the highest expectations — in fact, you should, as this illustrates to your team that you believe they can reach their full potential — as long as you are crystal clear about what these look like.
5. Give credit where it’s due
Constructive feedback is important. That’s how we grow. However, it’s just as imperative to highlight the successes and provide reassurance to your staff. Your team members have so many talents and skills (you wouldn’t have hired them otherwise), and acknowledging those can go a long way in creating an atmosphere that fosters closer relationships.
This isn’t just about words, though. You want your employees to know that their strengths are being utilised. Doing so creates a sense of accountability, ensuring that everyone is working towards a shared goal. By doing so, you’ll guarantee that people feel more respect and fondness towards one another.
When you have a project, try to use your knowledge of your staff’s skills to delegate tasks and create balanced sub-teams if necessary. Put your money where your mouth is and you’ll encourage team members to feel essential to the project, helping and supporting each other when needed.