I wrote in a prior blog that Connecting is 90% of what motivation is about, but I forgot something basic. For some managers, it is easy to form a bond with your employees. For many, it is incredibly complicated and is very unnatural. What is appropriate as far as communication; particularly, amount of openness? Where is the line between what should and shouldn’t be shared with regard to personal life and interests outside of work? How does a manager balance a line to not be overly friendly, and possibly blur the lines between work and friendship in a manner that could lead to misunderstanding?
More than anything, managers should attempt to form a bond with their employees. This article by Forbes.com helps with ten very basic ideas of how to do so: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2018/03/05/10-simple-ways-to-get-to-know-your-employees-better/2/#3f8b3f8a5fab. The ideas range from having lunch with your employees to working alongside them. The ideas are cost minimal as well and are key to extending the relationship with an employee beyond just work content.
When you attempt to connect with your employees, there are many things that can be discussed that are not taboo - family members, friendships, hobbies/interests, music, television, fitness, games, etc. Steering away from politics and religion is likely a good idea, especially in our current nationwide heated environment today. You want to be able to find common bonds with your employees while also not finding topics that can be abrasive or lead to discord.
It’s always the manager’s responsibility to make the effort, and make more effort, than the employee to connect. Being connected to your employees makes them more likely to be content in the workplace, as Gallup asks in their Q12 Employee Engagement Survey, “Do you have a best friend at work?” (source: https://q12.gallup.com). While I’m not suggesting, nor would I think it appropriate, for a manager to become besties with their employees, this question inherently portrays the need for connection at work to the people with whom you are working.
Aside from overseeing daily functions, and managing the direction of the department/function, it is management’s responsibility to form connections with their employees to get to know them, thereby increasing the employee’s motivation. Which leads to job satisfaction and, ultimately, longevity and quality of performance in the employee’s role...and helping the company’s bottom line at the end of the day.