When building a business, even a small one, hiring and managing employees is one of the biggest challenges. And not just because you have to find 'true believers' that fit your company culture, either.
But also because once you do find and hire the perfect team member, you have to walk a balance between being their boss, coworker, and friend.
Strike that balance, though, and employees tend to work harder.
Here are three ways to build meaningful relationships with your employees while still running the show.
1. Keep expectations crystal clear.
Not only do unclear expectations cause confusion, they make it nearly impossible to build meaningful relationships with your employees. And the reason is simple: when employees don't feel like they can trust you to be honest and transparent with them in business, they definitely won't trust you to do so in a more personal relationship.
At our agency, we set 30, 60, and 90 day goals to help onboard an employee with clear expectations and goals to set them up to win.
CEO o Carrot, Trevor Mauch, agrees. "You can't build healthy relationships with your employees if they don't trust you to set honest and clear expectations," he shared. "Plus, without those clear expectations, internal relationships become difficult to maintain because of all the challenging conversations that ensue from not having adequate job descriptions or clear processes."
2. Create space for relationships to flourish.
Back in the day, daily team building was limited to the water cooler, printers, and lunchrooms.
In today's modern workplace, you can create space beyond the office to help build relationships and friendly conversation. Create a #random or #chitchat Slack channel or try other social apps like Voxer (it's less intrusive than a voice text message or video and won't interrupt an employees during off-hours).
We start our 'weekly huddles' with each team member sharing what made them happy that week and what will make them happy in the week ahead. It's usually a mix of personal and professional wins that help us all to connect better with each other.
The key is actually utilizing these opportunities yourself and initiating the conversations or insert some fun into your workday.
Jason Bliss, the Co-founder of The Healthy Living Network, The Healthy Living Network says, "Most of the time, healthy business relationships won't flourish unless, you, the leader, create space for those relationships to flourish. Remember, people see you as their boss and thus they're intimidated -- whether you like it or not. The only way that you're going to build meaningful relationships within that context is by designating digital and physical space for people to be themselves and talk about their passions."
3. Learn to ask great questions.
You're not just a boss. You're a leader. And the best leaders ask great questions. But they don't just ask great questions of their business, their processes, and their management team. They ask great questions of their workforce to better understand the people who commit eight hours a day to their business.
They don't ask, for instance, "How is work going?" They ask, "What is one thing you would change about your job if you could?" They don't ask, "Do you enjoy working here?" They ask, "What are you passionate about outside of work?"
In other words, they aren't afraid to ask the scary questions that force people to be honest. The more people are honest with you and see you respond with genuine interest, the more that they'll love you as a person and as a boss - and chances are, the harder they'll work for you, too.