If you, like so many others, find yourself on a mission to build better relationships and strengthen culture at work, I have news for you. Nurturing relationships and impacting culture within your organization doesn’t always have to be difficult - despite what we may tell ourselves about appearing awkward, not knowing how to connect, driving change, or dealing with misunderstandings.
In fact, developing high quality relationships is a skill you can learn and improve, eventually allowing you to perceive relationship building as enjoyable, exciting, and rewarding. There are a few key ways we can leverage clear communication to build relationships and culture, and I’ll cover three of my favorites for you to take with you on your leadership journey:
The More You Listen, The More You Learn
I'm sure it will not shock you to be reminded that in order to communicate better, you have to sharpen your active listening skills accordingly. It’s true what they say: the more you listen, the more you learn, and positioning yourself as a great listener can help you exude approachability and openness to others on your team.
By developing your listening skills, you automatically become more approachable to others, which results in more consistent, transparent, authentic communication on both sides of the equation. Your teams will be more likely to come to you with concerns - and kudos - and will quickly develop more trust in you as a leader and confidant. You might even uncover a few things that previously went unsaid, allowing you to address deeper issues more easily.
Know What You Need, and Tell Them
Another great way to influence culture through relationship building is to demonstrate clear, comprehensible direction. When you’re crystal clear on your needs, and can communicate them accordingly, you create a sense of trustworthiness and strength within your organization. As your teams get the hang of clear direction, they’ll be able to develop a positive expectation of you and your communication style. In turn, they’ll be able to harness their own confidence to deliver clear direction and feedback among themselves.
Create Space For Feedback & Check-Ins
I get it, most of us have very little free time on our calendars. But by making a little bit more time for open discussion or feedback (check out a great feedback model by my channel partner The Center for Creative Leadership), you can improve relationships and communication across the board. This can look like saving a few minutes at the end of meetings for discussion, having more frequent check-ins with your team, using TEAM TALK Cards, or implementing office hours to welcome conversation. By showing your employees that you have time for them, you’re more likely to see change happen quickly.