When we’re in the office, we have great opportunities to maintain relationships with our team, from chatting about our personal lives, to being there for someone after a difficult call. Every day, being in the same place as one another helps us to deepen our relationships with our workmates. A strong relationship with your manager, leads to more trust and happier working life. It also means that when receiving difficult feedback, you're likely to take it better.
Now we’ve moved to remote working, it’s much more difficult to maintain relationships with our team. As a manager, this can affect your team’s morale, engagement, and performance. There are a number of small adjustments managers can make to their day-to-day to help build up rapport and nurture positive working relationships to prevent this drop-off.
Think of two people you work with at the moment. One of them you spend a lot of time with, get on well with, and enjoy their company. The other, you don’t often speak to them, you don’t know them well, and you would feel awkward on a call with them. Now imagine they both have to deliver feedback to you. Something like, ‘the way you handled the meeting today wasn’t professional’. How would you feel? It’s likely you’d feel a lot more comfortable receiving the feedback from the first person. You may be quick to forgive them, and take it as a genuine constructive comment to help you improve. But for the second person, you are more likely to take this feedback in a negative way.
The same thing can happen between a manager and a report. Our managers deliver feedback often, to help our teams to listen, learn, and improve. Feedback helps individuals to develop in their roles and, when managers improve their relationships with their team members, their feedback will have a greater impact. Emotions are less likely to come into play, and a constructive conversation can take place.
The 10:1 ratio can help you to foster good work relationships whether you're working in the office or from home. The idea behind this ratio is that it takes 10 positive experiences to outweigh one negative experience. By taking the time to build positive experiences into our teams day to day, we can combat any negatives. Negative experiences can be a piece of feedback in a 121, but it can also be an accidental instant message perceived in the wrong way. There's no negative to building up your relationships with your team - so you may as well do it to help you later on.
As a manager you should aim to build up ‘credits’ with your team often. More credits lessen the impact of negative experiences on individual morale and engagement. There are several ways you can build up these credits with your team, even when you’re managing them remotely:
Have daily morning check-ins with each of your team. Say ‘good morning’ as you usually would and finding out a little about your teams' day, or evening. Keep taking the time to get to know everyone on a personal level. Find out what challenges they may be facing in their personal life. Keeping note of these, and checking in once a week, helps team members to feel recognised.
Be accessible, and let your team know when they won’t be able to reach you. A team wants to feel like they can rely on their manager. Knowing when you can, and can't get hold of someone increases perceived reliability.
Avoid using instant messages or email for any type of feedback. Even if you think it’s a minor point, to someone else it could be their tipping point. If you need to give any feedback, always use video calls to avoid any potential miscommunication.
Make time for fun too. Whether it be daily quizzes or challenges, scattergory competitions or more. Always make time to let your team see the ‘fun’ side of you, and their job too.
It’s also important to give regular, specific recognition. Specific feedback tells your team what behaviours they should be continuing. on-specific praise may look like ‘you are doing a great job’. Specific praise would be: ‘I like the way you spoke with X, you gave great empathy whilst they appeared stressed’. Remember, public recognition can act as an amplifier. Giving praise on a group chat or at a company all-hands meeting, will likely have a much greater impact (although be mindful that, for some team members, that could be their worst nightmare).
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