Lessons Learned: Eight Ways to Develop a Good Relationship with Your Team

Time to raise a glass! You’ve worked and trained hard during the last few years and finally achieved that manager promotion. This means new responsibilities, a swanky new title, and the chance to work on some exciting new projects.

One of your new responsibilities is supervising a team. However, making the transition to management can be quite challenging. You often need to delegate, coordinate, mentor, and communicate with the same co-workers you once chatted with daily about company policies, other managerial staff, and even office rumors.

This type of transition can be difficult, especially when peer relationships change to manager relationships. Check out these eight tips to help new managers transition into their new role, recalibrate the relationship with their peers, and inspire a healthy team dynamic. Then take a few minutes to learn how to ensure things don’t slip through the cracks using automation and personalization.

8 ways to develop a good relationship with your team

Listen Up: Ahhh, the art of listening. Don’t worry – you’ll have time to make those changes you want to complete in due time, but for now, just listen. Have a personal interview with each direct report to better understand their career goals, challenges, and what they like/don’t like about their role to gain a clearer picture of their responsibilities. While you may be familiar with your team’s duties, let each person explain their position in their way. This will help you understand their needs, evaluate workloads, and prepare performance goals and expectations. You can even ask for input and ideas for improving the organization and what they personally and professionally need to perform at their highest level.

Clear the Air: Handling and resolving conflicts is one of the hardest challenges managers face. Yet, conflicts are bound to occur within the team with so many different backgrounds, styles, personalities, and roles.

As a new manager, you are responsible for everything that happens on your team. Start by resolving any possible conflicts or misunderstandings that took place before your promotion. Maybe there is a co-worker who wanted your promotion, but now reports to you. Speak with that team member about their discontent, but resist the urge to compare them to yourself or others around you. Reassure the co-worker that you have their best interests at heart and want to plan their career strategy together.

Also, don’t hesitate to discuss your new role with your co-workers, how it will change  your relationship, and your vision for the team. Let them know you are there to support them and help how you can. Practice conflict resolution early on, whether it’s ongoing communications, removing emotions from the situation, defining (and modeling) acceptable behavior, and addressing conflicts as soon as they arise.

No Comment: As a manager, courage is critical. That means you’ll make hard decisions employees won’t like, implement policies employees disagree with, and seek opportunities employees will whisper about behind your back. That’s OK. A good leader is enthusiastic, energetic, and optimistic. A successful leader is all those qualities plus empathetic, curious, and strong. During your new manager transition, don’t be afraid to change some of the old traditions you used to have with your peers. It will only help them mentally with the transition.

On an ongoing basis, make it a personal rule not to comment or chit-chat with employees about office situations or upper management positions. It’s your job to put a smile on your face, show your support, foster an environment of trust, encourage teamwork, and align your team. You can express your point of view with your leadership in advance or privately. Just remember to be respectful, listen, and focus on your employee’s issues at hand.

Don’t Play Favorites: We all remember the teacher’s pet. Today, managers may slip into playing favorites, but treating direct reports differently is unwise and unfair. It’s critical in your new role to not just stay friendly, but also treat everyone equally. Favoring one employee over another decreases productivity and creates a dysfunctional setting.

Your role is to create a team that offers different perspectives, distributes accounts and activities equitably, and includes everyone. If there is someone on your team you haven’t quite connected with yet, try to identify something in common to cultivate conversations. Most of all, be empathetic. We’ve written a lot about empathy, and just as important as recognizing and appreciating your employees’ feelings is understanding how your disapproval makes them feel and act. Anything less than being equally friendly and respectful undermines your authority as a leader.

Ask for Advice: We tell our team members never to be afraid to ask questions, yet managers are often hesitant to seek advice for fear of looking incompetent. You want to be a supportive manager, but confident in your decision-making. A good team starts with a good leader so don’t be scared to ask your team members for their advice. It’s an effective way to strengthen and expand relationships. Plus, it shows you trust your colleagues and promotes a culture of helping and satisfaction, which leads to retention and engagement. Hear your teammate’s suggestions, listen carefully without talking over their ideas, and take their feedback into consideration. However, ultimately, it’s your job to make the best decision for the team. Once you do, accept responsibility, don’t let other obstacles hold you back, and trust your team members to rally.

After all, your promotion depends on your ability to motivate and strategically drive a team that increases success, employee and customer satisfaction, and profits.

Get to Really Know Your Team: While we’ve talked about empathy, it’s worth bringing it up again, in a different context. Employees want to feel heard, not just professionally, but personally as well. Get to know your employees, even if you feel you already know them. Learn about their kids, partners, family situation, etc. and write down birthdays, anniversaries, and special days. And don’t forget to acknowledge those days, milestones, and more.

Start team meetings by asking how everyone is feeling. Start one on one meetings by asking how each individual is feeling or how they’re doing at home. Ask for one positive thing that’s happened to your employee, but also ask if they’re dealing with anything personal that you can help support.

Delegate: Someone helped you develop the skills and gain the experience for your new role, and now it’s time to help employees take their skills to the next level. By delegating to employees, you’re not only freeing up your time for higher-level tasks like planning and budgeting but allowing others to learn, maximizing everyone’s potential, and improving time management.

The key for new managers is to delegate efficiently, which requires extensive planning and collaboration, monitoring team member’s performance, providing feedback, and developing ideas and opportunities. As a new manager, it’s essential to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty by showing a hands-on attitude. It’s equally important to offload tasks. Give your team the space to manage the tasks you assign, but not before discussing the deliverables, timelines, goals, and expected results. Your attention to these details will earn a high-return rate and build stronger relationships.

Transparent Team Communication: Be sure to share important information (when appropriate) from leadership, HR, etc. Consider either having an open door policy for your employees to discuss any organizational or policy changes or make time in team meetings. Individual one-on-ones are also an ideal time to ask about any company concerns. And remember, you don’t have to answer every question you’re asked. It’s OK to say that you don’t know, but you will make an effort to find out. And actually do find out!

Additionally, encourage open communication among your team. Team meetings are a great way for members to get up to speed on each other’s projects, while individual meetings are ideal to ensure members are receiving the support they need from not only you, but their colleagues.

Becoming a new manager can be exciting, yet overwhelming. With these eight tips, you can certainly feel prepared, but it’s still a lot of work and ramp time. How can you make it more efficient, organized, and productive?

Making a New Manager’s Life Easier with Automation

More meetings, an endless to-do list, and limited time may make it difficult to prioritize what to tackle first. Implementing an automated personalization platform to deliver pre-written, curated campaigns to employees can help ensure things don’t fall through the cracks. A platform that uses data to help managers improve messaging throughout the employee journey can keep everyone on task, improve processes and efficiencies, and boost engagement.

For example, let’s consider birthdays or anniversaries. Personalized communication can be sent to the manager, reminding them that their employee’s birthday is the following day. The manager can send a quick email celebrating their big day. The manager looks engaged, the employee appreciates the gesture, and the team quickly follows suit. It’s a win-win for all.

The same platform can help managers support employee management. For instance, sending out personalized reminders for team members to complete performance reviews, sharing learning and training resources, offering LMS courses, and distributing pulse surveys. All of these tasks are expectations of managers, but can be difficult to execute with a full plate. When an employee does not engage with the training, a platform that uses data can remind employees to take action. If they don’t act, the platform can offer other career skills and topics to get them excited and engaged in learning.

A multifunctional technology platform can also help managers find and optimize the right future leaders by identifying leadership skills an employee may not recognize as a strength and uncover opportunities to develop those competencies.

While many new managers thrive from effective communications, connecting with employees promptly, staying organized, and keeping from getting overwhelmed in your new role can be daunting and even impractical. By leveraging a personalized automation platform, you’re not only taking control as a new manager but managing your priorities, tackling demanding tasks, and reducing your stress while forming better connections with your employees.

Would you like additional strategies to support managerial communications? If so, visit here or view the on-demand webinar “Making a Manager.”