Breaking Down Barriers in Work Relationships

nomorebarriersThere are ways to break down communication barriers that impact productivity without becoming your employees’ best friend (which in turn hurts productivity). Just because you are in HR or payroll doesn’t mean you can’t be reminded of some basics when it comes to knocking down barriers with employees.   Or, if you know and do all of this, forward it on to the managers within your company.

Make Time For Your Employees
This means individual, one-on-one meetings to build a strong work relationship with each and every individual. Make sure this time is “quality time.” Don’t answer emails or look at your phone or be distracted overall. You owe your subordinate the respect to give them your undivided attention for a given period, be it 10 minutes or 30, be it every day or every two weeks.

Express Interest
Strengthen relationships by asking about your employee’s life outside of work – they will feel cared for and reward you with hard work. Chat and relate to your team as people. Everyone has something they enjoy outside of work, you just have to find out what it is.

Seek Opinions
People want and need to feel valued – ask for your team members’ opinions individually when warranted. And when you ask, even if you disagree, take the opinion in and consider it. An open environment where opinions are valued will be a more productive one. And you never know where a good idea may come from. Remember what Steve Jobs said in his November 1998 Fortune interview, “When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

Sincerely Ask Open-­Ended Questions
As a manager, your personality is probably a strong one and maybe even intimidating. You’re not creating a beneficial environment by allowing employees to skate by when you ask yes or no questions or questions they answer in the way you want to hear.

Don’t Hide Behind Email
We have all had the boss who smiles to our face and then sends nasty emails when they are disappointed in performance. That may be easier on you but you are building a wall of resentment between you and your team. Talk face-to-face and be honest. Another problem with email is it tends to be interpreted with a “tone.” A simple discussion followed by an email can remove any misperceptions.

Be Open and Honest
You know what creates mistrust and whispers and eventually a downward spiral of ineffective employees?  Mistrust. You think your employees cannot handle the truth, but when you hide things from them they make up things and fears emerge that are probably way worse than the truth.  Most businesses go through ups and downs – it is okay, just be honest.


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