“Be kind to people on the way up – you’ll meet them again on your way down.” Jimmy Durante

It was recently reported in USA Today that 48 percent of employees believe that being courteous leads to advancement at work. And in a recent AOL article, business writer David Schepp writes, “with five applicants for every job opening in the current labor market, it’s not surprising that employers have focused more on employees’ soft skills. After all, in trying times, such as those
experienced during the recent recession – being able to handle stress with aplomb can go a long way toward maintaining harmony in the workplace.”

These statistics speak to what we all value in a work environment – respect and appreciation. What manager or CEO doesn’t want a healthier and more functional relationship with their staff? In our more than 40 combined years of service we have observed a few things that we believe, if practiced, can make a positive difference in your organization and build morale, especially in today’s highly pressured workplace. Let’s begin with these four.

1 Getting to know you
How well do you know your staff? Taking the time to sit down one-on-one with your staff can build bridges and respect that transcends titles. When you understand what makes them tick and they get to know you; you are sending signals that you are interested in them as a person, not just the job they perform. Make it a practice to know birthdays and other important events in the life of your staff. Even if you can’t offer a monetary incentive, a few hours off to attend a special family event or a child’s baseball game might even be better. Take the time to find out who is on your team
and why.

2 Listen up
Your front-line staff is an invaluable resource. The benefits in building relationships with your staff are numerous. Your front line-staff serves everyone well as the face and voice of your organization, the first point of contact with many of your present or future clients, and can trouble-shoot many problems before they reach you.

The hallmark of your leadership is found not when you ignore your assistants but when you respect them as the valuable team players they are. Engage your team by frequently asking, “What do you think?” and encourage honest response. Discuss your decisions. Staffers who have a voice feel ownership and strongly connected to the successes of their managers. Reward this kind of initiative and the rewards will come right back to you.

3 The value of undivided attention
In a time of text messages, smartphone emails, custom ringtones and 24/7 accessibility, the concept of giving another person one’s undivided attention has become a rare commodity.

Author Jim Rohn said, “Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.” What a great piece of advice. Look your staff in the eye while speaking to them and try to avoid answering with email or texts when possible. The smart managers know how to multitask and seek out face time as a teambuilding tool.

4 High praise
It’s a fact – sincere praise motivates staff to produce excellent work far more than humiliation, intimidation and yelling. Praise is powerful in every form – written and verbal. To publically praise a staffer inspires every team member to seek excellence in order to garner similar praise.

John Maxwell said, “The disposition of the leader is important because it will influence the way the followers think and feel. Great leaders understand that the right attitude will set the right atmosphere, which enables the right responses from others.” Sharing the credit and spotlight elevates the whole team. The rise in your leadership begins when you take the spotlight off yourself and place it on your team. When you sing their praises be assured, they will sing yours.

Becoming the ultimate manager is possible but it takes hard work and careful choices based on respect and appreciation for the staff. We are interested in your feedback and what you suggest would improve the relationships between managers and staff in 2013.”

Bonnie Low-Kramen is the founder of Ultimate Assistant Training and is one of the most respected thought leaders on workplace issues. She is a TEDx speaker, bestselling author of Be the Ultimate Assistant and Staff Matters, and her work has been featured ... (Read More)

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