You may wonder why it’s important for your team members to feel like someone cares about them at work. Work is centered around relationships and these are important because they help people feel connected, making them more motivated and productive. It’s much easier to share feedback with someone if you have built up a solid rapport, or ask someone for advice if you have invested in the relationship.

A LinkedIn study showed that 46 percent of those surveyed worldwide believe having friends at work is important to their overall happiness. It’s important to have someone you trust, to confide in, and feel supported when you are faced with a challenge or difficult personal situation.

Relationships with your team members

By making an effort to get to know your team you help them feel comfortable talking about any subject, personal or work-related. A productive workplace is one in which people feel safe – safe to experiment, to challenge, to share information, and to support one another. But none of this can happen if employees do not feel cared about.

How is your relationship with your team? Building these relationships increases your understanding of them, what makes them tick, what energizes them, their resiliency, and gives you a bigger picture of them outside of work. A Gallup study revealed that employees who feel as though their manager is invested in them as people are more likely to be engaged. Each person has different successes and challenges both at work and at home. Knowing your employees as people first, allows you to accommodate their uniqueness while managing toward high performance.

Three Practical tips on how to get to know your team members in a 1:1

Communication is often the basis of any healthy relationship, including between you and your direct reports. Build strong lines of communication by making it a priority and having a 30 - 60 minute 1:1 with each of your team members every week or two weeks.

Proactive support

Being there when your team needs you is important, but being there before they need you is a chance to shine as a trusted partner for them. You can ask what they need for you and how you can better support them. Initiating this discussion will help you give them what they need before they have a chance to be upset that they don’t have it, and in some cases, before they even realized it was something they needed.

Do not cancel

Try not to reschedule 1:1s; you want to signal that your direct report is important, and a repeatedly rescheduled meeting doesn’t appear important. It’s also a regular integration allowing you to build a better relationship. Consistency is the key.

Walking meeting:

For your next 1:1 try a walking meeting. Leaving the office and walking side by side makes the interaction feel more natural and easier to chat about weekend plans, their children, or upcoming holidays. By opening up yourself and talking about your own life outside of work helps to get the ball rolling.

Tip - if you are working remotely you can still try a walking meeting with each of you walking in your respective neighborhoods and talking the old-fashioned way - on the phone!

Summary

By getting to know your direct reports as people first, you create a safe environment founded on strong and open communication. In your next 1:1 don’t forget to ask about your direct report’s weekend plans or latest interest in paddleboarding!

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