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When leaders enter the office every day, they're making a choice about where to spend their time. The same is true for their executive teams and employees. At any point, these key team members can vote with their feet and walk right out of our organizations for more appealing opportunities elsewhere.

People sometimes choose to leave because they no longer see themselves fitting in with the company. Just as often - or perhaps even more often - employees make a career move because they don't have a genuine connection with their manager. Retaining your best employees begins with creating an environment where professional relationships are based on real, meaningful connections.

What Is A Genuine Connection?

Connections that build a company center on close working relationships; those that are thoughtful, honest, open, collaborative and highly professional in nature.

Kindness and likability also play an important role. Ask yourself, for instance, if you're more open to establishing a relationship with someone who is friendly and welcoming. The answer is likely "yes." Likeability is linked to trust. Leaders can't lead when no one is prepared to follow them; Decisions to follow someone are based upon trust in the form of likeability, or more simply, a personal relationship.

Leaders are always pressed for time. Taking time to focus on key personal relationships with our family can seem impossible, let alone with our employees. So how do we build these genuine connections, without dropping the ball on any of our other responsibilities?

Three Simple, Creative, And Effective Steps For Building Workplace Relations

1. Write Notes To Your Staff Members. Personally acknowledging employees with brief, positive, hand-written notes on occasion won't take too much time out of your day, and the motivation and affirmation this spontaneous gesture creates is significant. Personal touches matter. Buy a box of blank note cards and keep them at your desk. Any kind of positive commentary will be meaningful, and any project that builds morale in your organization is worthwhile. Be different! No emails!

2. A Penny For Your Thoughts - And Words. Sometimes we need to be reminded to make relationship-building a part of our hectic schedules. One way to remind yourself is to put 10 pennies in your right pocket every morning. For each positive affirmation given to a team member, move a penny from your right pocket to the left (or into a penny jar). At the end of the day, your right pocket should be empty. This activity creates more than 2,000 affirmations a year if you repeat it every day.

3. Be A One-Minute Manager. The book, One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, states many management communications can be accomplished in 60 seconds, whether those communications refer to goal setting, disciplinary issues or praise. It will take little time to manage our affirmations. How many more opportunities for coaching, leadership and positive reinforcement can you find in the day when you adopt this perspective on your time?

Without rewarding, working relationships and the establishment of genuine connections, your best employees may well choose to spend their time elsewhere. Be sure to make time each day to develop the connections that create an effective team. It's one of the often-overlooked keys to successful leadership.


Larry Hart

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