Research Backed Approaches to Leadership and Team Dynamics with Dr. Will Ramey, The Leadership Dr.
Connecting with your team can be complex as a leader. Here we share ideas on how to build those connections and strengthen team dynamics over time.
The Complexity of Connection
As a team leader, building strong connections with your team members is essential to creating a positive and productive work environment. When your team members feel connected to you, they are more likely to trust you, communicate openly with you, and work collaboratively with their peers. However, connecting with your team members can be complicated. How do build genuine relationships without compromising your ability to soundly manage performance?
Early on in my leadership career I was taught to get to know your team, take a genuine interest in their lives, understand what motivates them, and learn everyone by name. As a Lieutenant in the Army, I made it part of my daily routine to get out and talk with my Soldiers where they were working. I found out who was married, who had kids, where people were from, etc. The difficulty came with balancing that with assigning tasks, making disciplinary recommendations, and correcting performance. How could I not become biased or allow someone’s personal situation to sway my judgement. The easy answer would be to swing the other direction. Put up walls. Keep people at double-arms distance. However, if this happens you become unapproachable. How do you lead when your team doesn’t feel comfortable bringing up concerns or issues?
Finding the Balance
To strike a balance in the work environment you can reflect on your communication rhythm. When do you communicate, where do you communicate, how do you communicate, and what is the purpose of your communication. When you make intentional decisions about communication with the intent to connect to your team you can start to build bonds and balance driving for results. Think about the routines you have when you communicate. Start-up meetings, do you mix the daily goals with the opportunities to recognize your team or acknowledge an anniversary, birthday, etc? Conversations in the workspace, do you take time to check in and encourage your team members to share their concerns or teach your something about their role? Formal feedback conversations, do you deliver balanced feedback on performance and share opportunities for professional development?
Here are some tips on building strong connections with your team
- Get to know your team members personally: Take the time to learn about your team members’ interests, hobbies, and aspirations. Knowing what makes them tick can help you understand them better and show that you care about them as individuals.
- Be approachable and available: Make sure your team members know that they can come to you with any questions, concerns, or ideas. Create an open-door policy, get out of your office, and encourage your team members to reach out to you when they need support or guidance.
- Show appreciation and recognition: Make sure you acknowledge your team members’ hard work and achievements. Celebrate milestones, acknowledge team members who go above and beyond, and show your gratitude for their efforts.
- Communicate clearly and effectively: Communication is key to building strong connections with your team members. Make sure you are clear and concise in your messaging and encourage your team members to do the same. Listen actively, ask questions, and be open to feedback.
- Lead by example: As a team leader, you set the tone for the team. If you want your team members to be respectful, collaborative, and communicative, you need to model those behaviors yourself.
- Invest in professional development: Show your team members that you care about their growth and development by investing in training and development opportunities. This can help your team members develop new skills and expertise, which can lead to more meaningful and rewarding work.
- Encourage teamwork and collaboration: Encourage your team members to work together and collaborate on projects. This can help build trust, foster creativity, and create a sense of camaraderie.
The Power of Connection
Research has found support for the power of connection between team leaders and team members. One study found that employees who had a positive relationship with their supervisor were more likely to report job satisfaction and higher levels of engagement. Another study found that employees who had a positive relationship with their supervisor had higher levels of organizational citizenship behaviors, such as helping coworkers and going above and beyond their job duties. This can lead to increased productivity and improved job performance. In addition, research has shown that positive relationships between supervisors and their subordinates can lead to reduced turnover rates. One study found that employees who had a positive relationship with their supervisor were less likely to leave the organization.
Overall, there is ample research to support the notion that positive relationships between leaders and their team members can have significant positive outcomes for employee satisfaction and business performance. As a team leader, investing in these relationships is not only the right thing to do for your employees, but it can also have a positive impact on the success of your organization.
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