4 Tips To Improve Your Employee-Manager Relationships

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Nov. 16 2022, Published 11:59 a.m. ET

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Today’s workforce is motivated by collaboration and constant feedback, not performance reviews and micro-management. Outdated management styles no longer work in today’s collaborative workplaces. In fact, recent research shows that millennials are the most trusting generation when it comes to establishing genuine relationships with their managers. These tips will help you establish that trust while also improving your organization as a whole.

1. Be an active listener.

Active listening is the first step in establishing trust between colleagues. When managers actively listen, they show employees they’re willing to invest in their careers and futures—not just their current work. Plus, active listening allows you to identify problems and issues in the employee-manager relationship before they arise. It’s easy to overlook signs of frustration or discontent when you’re too busy speaking. Active listening makes it easier to identify any issues your employees may have with the team, the work, or their managers. It also helps you respond to those issues in a way that’s thoughtful and beneficial to everyone. Active listening isn’t just about nodding your head and occasionally saying, “Uh-huh!” It’s about entirely focusing on the other person, asking questions when you don’t understand something, and summarizing the discussion at the end.

2. Hold regular one-on-one meetings.

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One-on-one meetings help you get to know your employees better while facilitating open communication. You can use these meetings to discuss projects, employee development (beyond the yearly review), and any team performance issues. One-on-one meetings are also a great way to ensure you keep up with your employees’ personal lives. You can learn more about their families, health, and outside interests. This helps you identify ways to support your employees outside of work and make reliable recommendations for their personal and professional development. But don’t just meet with employees when something needs to be corrected. Use these meetings to keep up with your employees’ lives, discuss personal interests, and get to know them better as individuals. This will make it easier to spot potential issues and solve them before they become significant problems.

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3. Establish clear goals and expectations.

Great managers know what success looks like for their employees and teams. They also know how to create an environment that fosters growth and opportunity. By clearly establishing your goals and expectations for your employees, you make it easier for them to succeed and know what they need to do to move forward in their careers. This is especially important when setting employee development and performance expectations. You should have standard expectations for employees but also have room to be flexible based on each person’s strengths and weaknesses. This includes having regular performance check-ins. These should consist of one-on-one meetings, peer feedback, and direct reports.

4. Create a healthy working environment.

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An unhealthy working environment is one of the main reasons why employee-manager relationships break down. Employees who feel discriminated against, overworked, or unappreciated often have a problematic relationship with their manager. But how do you create a healthy working environment? Hold regular meetings with your team members to engage in an open discussion about work-related issues. Be open to hearing your team members’ opinions about what could be improved. Build healthy relationships with your employees by being genuine, empathetic, and approachable. Employees want to feel like they can go to their manager with any issue.

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Create an environment that promotes good health and wellness. Walking meetings, ergonomic furniture, and regular team events are great ways to promote a positive culture, as is introducing music into the working environment. Studies have shown that music can help employees be more productive. Choose a genre that appeals to the tastes of your employees, for example, Sirius XM Music for Business and allow them to listen to it while they work for increased wellness and productivity.

To create a healthy working environment for your teams, you’ll want to ensure that your employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, contributing to decision-making, and trusting their colleagues. Effective communication is key in facilitating this type of culture. These are five tips to improve your employee-manager relationships.

[Editor’s note: This article was written by one of our trusted partners.]

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