3 Strategies to Build Powerful Employee-Employer Relationships
To build employee-employer relationships in today’s fast-paced, “I-don’t-have-the-time” world, we must never forget to complement our high-tech messages with some high-touch communication.
Here are three key strategies to build powerful employee-employer relationships:
- Establish internal listening as a priority
- Encourage two-way interaction
- Give feedback in real time
Establish Internal Listening As a Priority
Companies today invest huge amounts of time and energy to better understand the thinking, values and behavior patterns of their customers. They’ll spend millions of dollars on surveys, focus groups, mail-in coupons and even interactive kiosks to help fill their craving for knowing more about their customers.
Few organizations, however, give much more than token consideration to listening to their employees. Beyond an occasional meeting or survey, most overlook the magnificent opportunities available to them to listen and learn from the very people who perform the lion’s share of the real work—the front-line employees.
One person who understood the power of internal listening was the late Sam Walton, founder of Walmart. Sam was a fanatic about visiting his store, meeting with his associates, listening, learning and watching. He often said, “99 percent of the best ideas we ever had came from our people.”
Internal listening builds relationship between the front line and top managers. When customer-contact employees understand that their opinions matter just as much as those of the customer, their commitment rises.
Encourage Two-Way Interaction
Powerful employee-employer relationship can only occur in an environment that promotes active two-way interaction.
A great challenge facing most companies is transforming the traditional one-way, top-down communication into a flexible two-way communication loop. Old habits die hard.
For years we have recruited and trained gatekeepers—men and women with the express duty to keep other people away from us. To build employee-employer relationships and to gain the full commitment of employees, we must come out from behind our desks and embrace an “in-your-face” passion for employee interaction.
It’s easier than you might think. Walk down the hall and talk directly to the people you were going to write. Give them a chance to get back in your face. If people are reluctant, that’s OK, but keep it up. Demonstrate your commitment to building your employee-employer relationship through two-way interaction.
Give Feedback in Real Time
When employees are not given feedback in real time, they tend to fill in the gaps of their knowledge with worst-case scenarios. For example, what goes through your mind when your son or daughter is an hour late coming home from a date? Do you imagine them safe and sound, laughing and enjoying good friends while time innocently passes by? Or do you, like the vast majority of it, begin envisioning catastrophes?
Rumors at work are probably the most common result of withholding real-time feedback. Where do you think most rumors come from?
Rumors begin when employees start filling in the gaps of an incomplete picture by supplying the missing information that should have been given to them through immediate feedback.
Real-time feedback minimizes the formation and impact of rumors. Immediate feedback helps rebuild the strained connections produced by rumors.
By not delaying information, by quickly closing the communication loop through offering feedback in real time, powerful employee-employer relationships can be built that can withstand the storms of the future.