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Building relationships and establishing workplace connections can enhance job performance, elevate workplace satisfaction, and contribute to professional development.

Ultimately, building relationships in the workplace can play a significant role in the success of employees. In this edition of nSider, Brandee Roberts, Director of HR, and Andrea Briere, People Operations Leader, of nTech talk about the ways leaders can work together with their employees to create a culture that fosters meaningful workplace connections.


Why Is Building Workplace Relationships Important?

According to Roberts, “Building connections in the workplace is crucial for fostering a positive and productive work environment. Strong connections among workers enhance collaboration and boost morale, increase job satisfaction, and just ultimately improve overall performance.”

Traditionally, many leaders and employees have considered workplace connections a distraction, but they can be a key leveraging point for cultivating community and building winning teams.


How Can Leaders Foster a Supportive and Inclusive Environment?

By definition, leaders set the workplace's tone and lead by example. Roberts notes that leaders “Should actively promote and embody diversity, inclusion, and belonging within the organization,” stating that “we can achieve this by encouraging more open communication, actively listening to our employees, their concerns and suggestions, and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard and respected.”

Briere also adds “One of the most important things a leader can do is to lead with compassion. When you lead with compassion, it shows that you’re listening and engaging with your employees and that you have created a safe space for them to talk to you about concerns or questions they might have.”


What Are Some Ways Companies Can Build Trust and Respect With Their Employees?

One strategy leaders might consider is “prioritizing transparency,” says Roberts, adding, “Providing clarity and consistency in communication helps, so having platforms for sharing and addressing concerns helps to build trust and respect.”

Briere adds, “Active listening is important for leaders, and in doing so they can engage employees to give feedback and present their ideas and any challenges they may be having.” Open communication shouldn’t be just team-based because it also helps “to have insight into what other teams in the company are working on. By doing so, it helps us better understand each other’s job. That helps build trust amongst employees,” says Briere.


How Can Leaders Lead By Example?

Being a leader comes with its fair share of challenges. Leading by example calls upon leaders to emulate the behavior and demeanor they wish to see reflected in employees, which can be a huge undertaking in self-discipline, patience, and kindness.

Roberts recommends “demonstrating empathy and active listening,” as well as “emphasizing the importance of work/life balance and self-care by practicing it themselves.” Briere also adds, “taking accountability” and “bouncing back after, learning from the mistake.”

Leaders prioritizing employee well-being can earn their employees' trust and respect; in doing so, they are cultivating a community where employees feel they matter.


What Are the Obstacles Leaders Face? How Can They Overcome Barriers to Communication? 

In an era of hybrid and remote work, there are more barriers to workplace connections than ever. But it might also be the traditional hierarchies of organizational structures that can impede building relationships.

Roberts notes, "Traditional setups hinder communication being so open, and it’s better if we encourage a flat organizational culture. So anybody, no matter where they are in the organizational structure, can feel comfortable sharing ideas and concerns, whether they’re speaking to their manager or to someone else.”

Briere adds that leaders can face “trust issues, not giving enough feedback, and not giving clear expectations,” which can create “anxiety with their coworkers or people that they are leading.”

To overcome these barriers, Briere notes that “a big part of it is open communication. Whether through a phone call or a direct message, make sure there is an understanding and expectation that you as a leader are there to provide regular guidance, support, and feedback. Whether it’s constructive criticism or positive feedback, you need to find a good balance between both. As well as making sure that expectations are delivered and discussed, especially if you’re a remote company.”

Roberts also highlights the importance of “learning about unconscious biases” as a leader and seeking leadership training "when collaborating with individuals from diverse backgrounds to enhance communication skills," while emphasizing the importance of "approaching conversations with an open mind, free from preconceived notions."

Briere adds “It's important to hear different perspectives and listen to the stories of our colleagues because we all have different experiences in life. It can be helpful for everyone to understand just how those perspectives are shaped, and how they can help all of us to foster better working relationships with one another. Opening up our understanding to other people’s experiences allows that lens to broaden.”

If you want to learn more management and leadership tips to help you build winning teams, check out the nSider blog and contact us for support in any of your workforce management needs.