Why Leaders Should Prioritize Strong Team Relationships

For most people, the ideal job includes a work environment where they feel valued and respected by managers and coworkers. Unfortunately, that often isn’t the case. In fact, according to a recent Gallup survey, only 20% of workers worldwide are actively engaged at work. This statistic should be concerning for leaders because engagement is a determining factor in productivity, retention, absenteeism, and overall job satisfaction.

According to SHRM, social relationships play a significant role in determining whether people are engaged in their roles. In a positive work culture, people feel valued by leadership and direct managers, work toward common goals and visions, feel connected with the team, and practice mutual trust and respect.

In other words, interpersonal relationships have a huge impact on how teams function. Leaders who understand how to build solid, trusting relationships with team members and stakeholders can help their teams become more productive, collaborative, and engaged.

The Impact of Relationships on Performance

Relationships with managers and colleagues play a key role in workplace engagement and job satisfaction. For example, consider how each of the following scenarios might affect your morale on a given day:

  • A manager doesn’t respond to your proposal.
  • A colleague won’t stop criticizing your work.
  • Someone recognizes your contributions.
  • Leaders listen to your feedback and it makes a difference.

Interactions like these, both positive and negative, can greatly impact how team members feel about their roles. The quality of relationships within a team has the power to tip the scale in favor of engagement or disengagement.

How important are positive relationships among team members? According to a 2021 Gallup poll, Millennials and Gen Z workers look for an organization that cares about the wellbeing of employees more than anything else when considering a job. That includes physical wellbeing of course, but it also extends to feeling satisfied in their career role and having positive social relationships, among other things.

Effective leadership must prioritize relationship-building as a means of improving satisfaction, supporting team members, and improving collaboration.

How Leaders Build Positive Relationships with Teams

Leaders who understand how to build a culture of positive relationships among team members tend to have more satisfied, productive teams overall.

Here’s what you can do to build connection, trust, and engagement with your team.

1. Practice Self-Awareness

Before you can learn to empathize with others, you must first be aware of your own triggers, responses, and behavior patterns. Self-awareness enables you to modify behaviors before they create problems with team members. For example, if you are stressed due to a tight deadline, awareness of those feelings enables you to be more intentional in your responses to others.

2. Improve Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the art of understanding and managing emotions. It includes awareness of how your own emotions influence you as well as your empathy for the emotions of others. Improving your emotional intelligence starts with identifying your weaknesses in this area. It can be helpful to ask for feedback from someone you can trust to be both honest and supportive. As you discover areas that need improvement, practice new behavior patterns that help you communicate more effectively.

3. Develop Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is the ability to pick up cues from your environment to understand what is happening around you. It includes being aware of what is going on in your team members’ lives outside of work and noticing how those outside factors may influence performance or interactions. It also involves being able to “read the room.” A leader with situational awareness can help defuse tension by managing issues that trigger certain types of behaviors and responses.

4. Communicate Effectively

Communication involves more than just the words we say. Behavioral psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s studies on communication found that only 7% of communication happens through words. The remaining 93% of communication is non-verbal, including body language, eye contact, tone of voice, and facial expressions. That’s why paying attention to non-verbal communication is critical, especially in our age of Zoom calls, emails, and remote work environments. Because so much communication happens outside of face-to-face interactions, it is more important than ever that leaders learn to use effective non-verbal communication skills and to communicate effectively in written format.

5. Learn to Manage Conflict

Conflict happens anytime you bring together people with different experiences and perspectives. It’s normal. However, it can still damage relationships and team dynamics if not handled well. Healthy conflict management includes creating and implementing clear, consistent policies, modeling personal responsibility for any misunderstandings or mistakes, acknowledging underlying emotions, and facilitating communication among all involved parties.

Lead Your Team in Building Strong, Healthy Relationships

Building strong, healthy work relationships can transform the culture of your team. When teams
have a vested interest in the success of others, they will be more likely to support each other and work together to reach goals.

Are you ready to learn how to build relationships that promote team unity, engagement, and satisfaction? In our Building Relationships That Work course, you will learn how to support stronger relationships through emotional intelligence, develop strategies to build trust among your team members, and manage situations to improve connections with others.

Join us to learn how you can build positive team relationships that improve overall performance and satisfaction!

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Register for theMaking the Connection Leadership Program

Beginning May 19

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