Location matters. Where are you? Are you really present for your team?
Do you set aside what you are doing to give your full attention and time when a team member asks if you have a moment to talk? We all know how busy we can get, but we might not be paying attention to what counts most—our team members.
People matter and they are our time! Developing high-quality relationships with your team members is essential to creating great teams.
So you need to communicate more, right?
Not always …
Too Much Talk
More communication in fact can actually lead to deteriorating relationships. These can have negative effects on the leader and the team member, along with possible devastating effects to an organization. How?
It happens when the relationship is low-quality to begin with. These are slightly strained relationships, in which each actor doesn’t know, and therefore doesn’t entirely trust, the other. Unfortunately, in most organizations—including police departments—they aren’t uncommon. Positive interactions are good for two-way communication, team building, and moving objectives forward. But when a relationship is new or fraught from the onset, communications from leaders need to be carefully considered.
Leaders need to pay attention to their professional relationships with members throughout the agency, but direct reports are particularly important. Fail to recognize the importance of your direct reports and you might soon find yourself stranded. Simply put: The success of a company and careers of its members—as well as lives—can truly be at stake.
While a hostile work environment presents tremendous liabilities to the leader and agency, good and appropriate communication is central to keeping relationships healthy.
Building relationships takes time and requires investment on both sides. It may seem easier to let a relationship flounder and put no extra effort into relationships that might not come naturally. As a leader, it really is your responsibility to begin the process of establishing high-quality relationships with your team members. The fact alone that we are in the same profession gives us opportunities to have positive conversations about things in common.
LEADERSHIP ZOOM CHALLENGE
Your challenge is to take the lead and consciously set aside time at work with your team members, one-on-one.
It’s likely that if you don’t write out your plan, it won’t happen as other responsibilities take precedence. Place some times in your work calendar to invite a team member to lunch or coffee. These types of meetings are for a specific time, often in a more relaxed environment, with just enough time to get to know each other better. If you are new to the assignment, then your team will just think that this is your normal.
If you haven’t done this regularly, or ever, then the team may be talking about this a bit until they realize that you are interested in them. In fact, publicly announce that you have failed to do this in the past and you realize how important the one-on-one time is for both of you. Imagine if your boss never took the time to meet with you except for the formal serious times. Imagine all those times when you wished you had a few minutes to pick your boss’s mind or get to know the boss better, but you never had that chance.
It is the leader’s responsibility to begin and continue developing high-quality relationships. Make the time to start now.