Stepping into a management role is a huge responsibility. While it can be exciting and rewarding, you also have an entire team depending on you. It’s your job to ensure that the team is successful and that day-to-day tasks are completed. As part of that, you need to build relationships with direct reports.
Failing to develop and maintain quality professional relationships can lead to turnover, low team morale, and less-than-desirable results. This is why relationship building is a key ingredient to success in the workplace.
Here are five ways to create better relationships with your direct reports and improve team performance.
1. Schedule Regular One-on-One Meetings
Teamwork makes the dream work, but to establish good relationships with your direct reports, you should address them as individuals. This one-on-one interaction is crucial if you want to forge strong connections with team members. During meetings, you can answer their questions, discuss concerns, or just talk about life. It’s a great time to open up the floor and simply have a chat.
If you’re just stepping into a management role or still mastering one-on-one meetings, there are resources that can help. For example, a one-on-one meeting template can guide the conversation without making it feel too rehearsed. The template’s questions provide useful jumping-off points and enable you to better plan for meetings as a manager.
2. Show Team Members Your Appreciation
Most employees know when they’re killing it on the job. But it still doesn’t hurt to hear it once in a while. Showing your direct reports that you appreciate them will reassure them that they’re on the right track. Plus, it shows that you care about their growth and value their contributions.
Make sure you’re not just addressing the team’s success as a whole. Take time to recognize each individual employee’s achievements and find ways to reward them. Also, when you tell a team member they’re doing a great job, take it a step further. Point out a specific project or task where they excelled or call out a skill or character trait you appreciate.
3. Be Approachable
Of all the things you can be as a manager, approachable is one of the most important. This key quality will help you in more ways than one as you navigate the ups and downs of management. Whether an employee is facing challenges, has questions, or wants to offer suggestions/ideas, a good manager is all ears.
When you step into a managerial position, implement an open door policy. This way, employees will feel comfortable coming to you with what matters to them. There are several other advantages to maintaining an open door policy. It allows you to catch problems early on, encourages healthy discussions, and enables you to establish trust with employees.
4. Tailor Your Management Style to the Individual
To build better relationships with each of your direct reports, you must understand who they are as individuals. This requires tailoring your management style to best fit the needs of a particular person. There is no single management style that is superior to the others. Yes, there are qualities all managers should possess, such as integrity, empathy, and transparency. But the best managers also adapt to the needs of their employees.
For example, one person may require more support than another. They value frequent check-ins and appreciate detailed feedback. Others may want to be set up for success initially but prefer a more hands-off approach after that. This doesn’t make one employee better than the other, and you’ll learn this as you get to know your team in more depth.
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses – no two people are alike. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect to be able to manage two people in exactly the same way. Make an effort to learn about each employee and change up your management style in order to grow strong relationships.
5. Focus on Growing Your People
While teams are often a melting pot of different individuals with varying goals and interests, team members do have similarities. Few employees will be satisfied just going through the motions and never having the opportunity to grow. This is why it’s so important as a manager that you’re not just assigning tasks. You should be actively focused on developing your employees.
Not every team member will aspire to take on a leadership role as you have. This doesn’t mean they don’t have other interests, however. Maybe some employees want more responsibility in the form of more challenging assignments. Others might be interested in leading a project. Still others may be interested in continuing education opportunities.
No matter where an individual’s interests may lie, it’s important that you, as their manager, implement an employee development plan. Showing employees that you care about their professional growth will mean the world to them. Not only will they feel empowered to make a difference within the organization, but it’ll make your relationship even stronger.
When you take on a management role, a lot changes. One of the biggest changes is that you’re now responsible for other people, not just yourself. Building relationships with your team members will put your leadership skills to the test. But if you’re able to foster good relationships with your direct reports, your team will be that much more successful.