Having genuine connections between team members can be integral to overcoming challenges and growing. No matter what role you fill in a team, you can take steps to genuinely connect with your co-workers and go beyond the typical, surface level, “How was your weekend?” interactions. This will result in a more connected, dedicated team that can generate more success.
Here are five areas that I struggled with personally that impacted my genuine work relationships -- and my tips for overcoming them and better connecting with my team members.
Sharing starts with you. When I first started out, I never shared anything about my passions, what I drive motivation from, in the workplace: music, technology, sports and fashion. I felt that as a young entrepreneur it would make me look unprofessional -- diminish me in some way.
But in the past couple of years, I’ve made a concerted shift. Now I share more about my personal life, such as my passions for writing and producing music. By sharing, I’ve not only connected more with my team, but I’ve opened the door for them to feel comfortable sharing things about themselves. And they do. As a result, we have an environment where people are free to be who they are and not have to distinguish between their “work” and “home” selves. This allows them to be comfortable and free to voice their opinions. These opinions have lead to many great ideas for our clients and for our own growth.
Do something fun together. I decided to use the newfound information about my team members’ interests to create opportunities for us to connect. Once you understand what your team members are passionate about, you can begin to do some of those fun things together.
This type of connection should allow your team members to fulfill their professional and personal passions at the same time. So plan a quarterly event with your team. It’s the quality of the time you spend together that matters, not the dollar amount.
Know when to multitask. I recently realized that I spent every meeting with my laptop in front of me. Instead of focusing on the conversation, I was responding to emails -- which made it difficult to connect with others and actively listen to what they were trying to say. My lack of attention was coming across as disinterest, and that didn’t allow us to fully connect.
Now I only multitask if I’m on my own, and I spend meetings focused on the people in front of me. It creates a better connection and makes my team members feel valued.
Be available, but set expectations. I am very enthusiastic when it comes to new ideas, but that excitement would often cause conflict when I realized I didn’t have the time to be available for the new initiative. It’s important to set appropriate expectations.
I’ve since shifted my approach. Instead of indicating that I would be available throughout an initiative, I set better expectations for my involvement. Yes, these expectations are important to my team, but they are really more about reminding myself where I have to spend my time. Your team members want your input, but you need to balance your enthusiasm with your schedule. Saying “no” sometimes is far better than saying “yes” and letting people down.
Be consistent, no matter your mood. Another thing I noticed, on reflection, was this: my general mood affected how I came across during a meeting. If I felt worn out and negative, I wouldn’t respond as enthusiastically to a team member who was sharing a success. This would often create confusion and make it difficult for people to approach me -- which closed down the flow of communication.
Other people shouldn’t have to gauge your mood before they approach you. They should know what to expect. Try to reset at the beginning of every meeting and not allow a bad mood infect everyone around you. Listening to a song that can set the mood I’m looking for before a meeting often works for me. Support your team in a positive way and let them know you’re there for them. Show them you have the ability to mute the negative noise.
These are the best ways I’ve found to create genuine relationships with team members. Now it’s your turn to incorporate these changes and see what happens when you build genuine connections at your company.
Related: The Lure of the Office Romance