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Team-Building: Personal Connections and Personal Lives
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Team-Building: Personal Connections and Personal Lives - Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Personal Connections and Personal Lives

Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Personal Connections and Personal Lives

An often unheralded but much valued team-strengthener is the development and nurturing of personal relationships in the workplace. These relationships go beyond the value of a team member’s contribution to the work, reaching into the value of each person in our lives overall, even if we only see each other in the office. Taking the time to know about each other’s lives away from work says we value each other as people, not merely as accountants, marketers, engineers, and managers.

In Trust Rules (Trust Lab Press, 2018), a recent book on team-building and management, author Bob Lee includes a chapter specifically on developing personal relationships. At first glance, Lee’s suggestions seem far too obvious, but the truth is that many of us who rise to levels of leadership do so because we know how to get things done, not because we know how to foster good relationships. Such advice as “greet people by name,” “check on a sick employee—but don’t ask about work,” and “call employees who work remotely” may not come naturally to the Type A team-builder, but they can make the difference for team members who want to know they’re valued.

Some people on the team don’t want this kind of relationship in the office, and they should be free not to establish one. Every so often, someone joins a team who prefers to keep things as professional as possible. He or she will give you a hundred percent, will contribute in every way possible to the work, but is unlikely to engage in how-was-your-weekend talk, or to join the Secret Santa pool in the holiday season. You can respect this person’s personal space while still establishing relationships with the person doing the job; it just takes a lot more work and a lot more time. For the keep-it-business members of our team, you still want to reach out, just not as often and not as personally. “I’m here if you need me,” reminders when the person is just back from sick leave, or occasional thank-yous for the person’s specific, personal touch on a project will go a long way over time. You just need to stick with it.

Whether your team members’ interests away from work also interest you or not, good relationship maintenance means asking about those interests once in a while. That guy in sales is into a multi-level marketing product? Ask about it, or ask about the special convention he went to last week, where he got completely amped. The woman in fiscal has poodles? Ask about them. And ask sincerely, and listen to the answers. Even if you don’t care one lick about poodles, you care about what excites people on your team, and goes a long way toward establishing a company culture where people care about each other.

Making regular connections takes effort, but these connections pay in all kinds of ways you don’t immediately see. They make people feel good about where they work and about the people with whom they work. And they make us sensitive to problems as they arise, work-related or not. Maintaining and nurturing personal relationships should be a high priority for all team-builders and managers.

 

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Team-Building: Personal Connections and Personal Lives - Executive Leadership Articles

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