Managers VS workers
The rest of the organisation will follow the example set by senior management. Supervisors may resent being asked to go the extra mile with their workers when their own bosses don’t do it for them. When organisational leaders care about workplace relationships they set a standard. So raise the bar!
We aren’t all selfless and generous creatures. Line managers who don’t prioritise good relationships might not understand why THEY would benefit from doing so. Giving them a briefing on the advantages of good relationships can be helpful. Specifically, they can expect work to be easier, faster and more enjoyable. And they can expect a higher level of discretionary effort from those under their supervision, for example when workers’ are injured and attempting to return to work.
Not everyone is a natural born charmer—and line managers have often attained that position because of their technical skills, not their people skills. There are two prongs here: make people skills part of the criteria for all management positions, and offer training to help develop them. Even the charm-deficient can learn how to build good relationships.
Difficult situations arise in any relationships, and the relationships between managers—even effective managers—and workers are no different. Sometimes, in order to maintain and repair relationships, supervisors will need a bit of support. HR can be of help here. Smaller organisations may be able to access government services, or information provided by peak industry groups to help managers manage difficult relationships effectively.
Workers are a valuable source of information about what is going right with employee / manager relationships and what, if anything, is going wrong. Managers can learn a lot from worker feedback on the behaviours that they find most and least helpful in creating a productive and personally satisfying work environment.
Recognising effective relationship building also encourages it. Managers who do well should be acknowledged. An excellent way to do this is by publicly passing on positive worker-feedback. Relationships are a two-way street, and line managers who see that their efforts are appreciated are more likely to keep it up.
Get out there and mingle! Interacting on a person-to-person level can be great for building camaraderie between managers and workers. Team-based health and wellbeing activities can be a fun way to bring employees of all levels into contact with one another.
Have a good system for dealing with conflict and complaints. Fair and consistent grievance procedures give everyone the chance to have their say and understand any complaints against them. Good grievance procedures also move quickly, and lead to positive change. This can help diffuse worker / manager conflict, which might otherwise grow into something costly, emotionally draining and unproductive.
Managers who have realistic expectations, and who offer the support necessary for these expectations to be met, earn the respect of workers. Unrealistic productivity pressures, on the other hand breed stress and resentment and can lead to negative outcomes including burnout, mob-mentality and unhealthy conflict.
That said, bear in mind that not all manager / worker conflict will be unhealthy. If managed well, conflict can drive innovation and improvement. For more information, check out our range of "Conflict Cookies". Delicious!