The quality of the relationship between employees and leaders has a direct impact on the customer experience. I believe employees are just as responsible for their relationship with owners/managers as the owner/manager is. All relationships are a 50/50 venture. Sometimes we have to teach people how to carry their half.
How do you create a 50-50 relationship with a supervisor or subordinate? Easy, just follow these tips. (Okay, it's not really that easy, but every relationship, both inside and outside work, will improve when you follow these suggestions.)
1. Don't hold back. Healthy relationships are the result of open dialogue. Unhealthy relationships result from of lack of trust and poor communication. When there is no open dialogue or trust there's usually resentment simmering right below the surface, poisoning the relationship.
The only way to create a 50-50 relationship is to bring issues and resentments to the surface and deal with them. Obviously this has to be done in an appropriate and respectful manner. You can always ask a third party to assist in the conversation if needed.
2. It can't be personal. Our relationships are the sum of our feelings about another person's behaviors and actions. When we feel good about a person's behaviors and actions, we feel good about the relationship. We have a 50-50 relationship. It's when we don't like the person's behaviors and actions that the relationship breaks down.
For a 50-50 relationship, both parties need to be able to articulate what behaviors and actions the other person is demonstrating that are making them happy or unhappy. You can't have a 50-50 relationship if it's personal.
Here are a few examples:
Personal: "You're mean to me."
Behavior/action: "You always cut me off when I'm talking."
Personal: "You're condescending."
Behavior/action: "The tone you use when delivering feedback is the same a parent uses with a toddler."
3. Each person needs to articulate what he/she needs in the relationship. Unless the other person is a psychic we need to tell the other person what we need from them to create a 50-50 relationship.
A supervisor might need to tell the employee, "I'm sorry you feel my tone is inappropriate. I'm really not aware of when I do that, so would you please tell when it happens so I can change it?"
He/she might also ask, "In our group Take Five meetings you often openly challenge my suggestions and comments. I'd like to ask that if you disagree with me that we meet one-on-one after the Take Five."
An employee might say, "I need five minutes of your time at the end of a shift to talk through any issues that came up."
He/she could also say, "When you tell me what I'm doing wrong in front of others it undermines me with the rest of the team. Could we please have those conversations privately?"
4. Take responsibility for your 50%. My friend Steve always says that he's 100% responsible for 50% of every relationship. When a relationship isn't working most people focus their attention on the other person's 50%, but that's the part we can't change. We can only change our own behaviors and actions. 50-50 relationships are always the result of each party owning and working on his/her own 50%.
If your relationship with a supervisor or employee isn't 50-50, it is your responsibility to approach the other person and ask to meet to begin the path to a healthier and more productive relationship.
So let me ask, are your relationships 50-50? If not, what action will you take to move your half to 50%?
Doug Fleener is a proven retail and customer experience expert that helps companies to improve their on-floor and management performance. Vist our website or call him at 866-535-6331 to discuss improving your company's customer experience and results.