You don't have to love them, but you do have to get along with your co-workers and staff to help your company do its best. To foster good relationships in a workplace, some managers resort to cheesy "team-building" activities; imagine someone catching a co-worker as he falls to establish trust or the group who goes bungee jumping to demonstrate mutual vulnerability. While those activities may work with your group, you may find other activities to be more effective for getting your staff to work well together.
Conduct a survey to find out whether you are meeting the needs of your staff. Employees who are satisfied with their benefits, salary and extra perks are going to be happier about their jobs overall -- and with that can come better interactions with fellow staff members. In the survey, ask staff members to share what they would change about their jobs or their workplace, and keep the survey anonymous to encourage workers to be totally honest in their answers. While you may not be able to raise salaries or offer a better benefits package right off the bat, you may find out that workers want to be better trained or have other simple changes made to the layout of the office -- simple fixes that can help make workers happier.
Schedule time to meet with each employee one-on-one every month or quarter. Scheduling this activity means all employees will get some time to hash out their goals and let you know where things are going well or not-so-well. When workers know you're interested in what they have to say and that you listen well, you will be on your way toward building a better working relationship with all of them.
Incorporate a positive reinforcement activity into your next potluck or office happy hour. Potlucks and happy hours are good ways to let employees interact in a more casual way, which can help build relationships in itself. But to step it up a bit, bring in a "suggestion" box and ask each employee to write something good about two or three employees on separate sheets of paper and put them in the box. During the event, read the compliments out loud. Even though they are anonymous, these positive reinforcements can help workers feel appreciated and more positive about their workplace.
Ask managers to set aside 5 minutes before regular staff meetings, in which workers can share something about their personal lives. Building relationships means having a personal connection with someone; while you already will be doing that by meeting regularly with staff members, you need a way for other staff members to do it among themselves. Give workers 15 seconds each to share something, or have them throw a ball around the room, tossing it to a new person after they have had their chance to share. This can help workers loosen up and lighten the mood in what might otherwise be a dull meeting.
- Activities are a great way to get people together -- but don't overlook the importance of your day-to-day interactions. Spend five minutes a day inquiring about one person's hobbies, family or outside activities, or invite someone out for coffee once a week. These one-on-one interactions can help build a personal relationship that can benefit you in a multitude of ways.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.