Leading in the Digital Age: Relationship Building

Building Work Relationships

As a leader, it’s your job to build networks, strengthen bonds and foster meaningful professional relationships within your organization.

Up until a few months ago, an individual meeting, a hearty handshake or a well-deserved pat on the back were important tools in building personal connections.

Oh, how quickly – and dramatically – things have changed.

These days, many of us are working remotely. Face-to-face meetings have fallen out of favor. And shaking hands? It’s not recommended, at least for now.

In a time when contact must be limited for obvious reasons, how can you effectively build the relationships vital to your business?

Find new ways to strengthen bonds with your team.

The pandemic is rewriting the rules for leading in the digital age. In this series of posts, we’re sharing tips for mastering leadership’s new fundamentals. Today’s installment explores ways to foster and strengthen employee relationships – and lead successfully in the modern workplace.

Other posts in this series:

Trustworthiness: The Key to Leading in Today’s World of Work

Empathy: A Powerful Tool in Today’s Workforce

7 Ways to Build Relationships with Employees

Although many or all of your employees may be remote, stressful times create the potential for even stronger relationships. Here are a few tips to try:

  1. Add communication channels.
    Right now, email and phone calls are indispensable – but they aren’t enough to maintain and grow connections. Video tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting and Microsoft Teams allow you to meet virtually and enhance the sense of engagement in your dialogue. Slack is another great tool for individual and group communication; you can set up channels for specific teams or topics, and you can even add channels for non-work banter. Don’t be discouraged if your efforts feel clunky or artificial at first; the more you engage, the more natural communications will feel – even if they occur 6 feet (or more) apart.
  2. Create new rituals.
    The morning commute. The team lunch. The coffee break. For many of us, daily elements of work life have gone by the wayside, at least temporarily. Recreate structure for your employees by instituting new daily or weekly rituals, such as a daily “team huddle” or a Friday virtual happy hour. In doing so, you’ll: add familiarity and predictability to alleviate some of your employees’ anxiety; connect your employees to the bigger picture of your company values; and create new opportunities for socializing and engaging with your team.
  3. Bring back small talk.
    To save time and drive efficiency, chit-chat during meetings is often frowned upon. But without the benefit of being in the same physical location, opportunities to commiserate with your employees are few and far between. Schedule a few minutes at the beginning of meetings for your team to share what’s going on in their lives. Be clear about time limits, however, to keep everyone on track.
  4. Give employees opportunities to ask tough questions – and really listen to them.
    Be mentally present for your staff and offer your full attention. Create an atmosphere of psychological safety, so your employees comfortable being candid. Active, empathetic listening is essential to building trust and strengthening relationships with your team.
  5. Make yourself available.
    The strain of continued uncertainty affects people differently; some will cope better than others. Create multiple times and ways for employees to reach you to share their feedback, concerns (both personal and work-oriented) and ideas.
  6. Monitor your staff for signs of emotional struggle.
    Keep a close eye out for symptoms such as social withdrawal or poor performance. Check in with all your employees regularly – especially those who are working from home.
  7. Be human.
    As a leader, it’s natural to want to appear competent, confident and in control. Right now, however, it’s critical to connect with your team on a personal level. Share personal anecdotes. Show a bit of vulnerability. Be humble. Add appropriate humor to your communications. Humanizing yourself will make you more relatable and inspire more authentic conversations – both of which will strengthen bonds with your staff.

What other skills are essential to great leadership during these tough times?

Keep an eye on our blog. In future posts, we will share more modern leadership tips to improve your effectiveness in today’s workplace.

How can we help?

If you need staffing support, workforce advice or simply want to talk, we’re here for you. Please contact your local PrideStaff office today – and let us know what we can do for you.