Fortunately, plenty of shortcuts can dramatically improve your relationships. First off, "hire people who are the best possible fit for your business and personal style," advises Mulkern. While he admits the hiring process can be time-consuming and frustrating, he warns, "Fight the urge to get it over with. Impatient hires may prove very expensive for you. Take the time to methodically consider who will best fit the business."
Just as managers vary in people skills, employees vary in their need to interact with the boss. Some want lots of nurturing contact. Others are content with rarer doses, so if relationships are low on your priority list, recognize that and hire people who will thrive in a leaner environment.
Step two: Really know yourself. "Successful entrepreneurs understand where they add value to their business and where they don't. The areas where they don't add value, they hire people who do--and they let them do their jobs," says Tom O'Malia, director of the Entrepreneur Program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
In practice, this self-awareness means being ready to turn over people-related issues that aren't your forte. "A big step in growing a business is letting go of some tasks," says O'Malia.
But the last shortcut may be the surest way to boost any entrepreneur's relationships: "Really care about your people," says Herman. "If you do, even if your skills aren't that polished, your people will come along with you because they know your heart is in the right place. Show your heart, and you may be amazed by what happens with your staff."