Not everyone has to be best friends at your workplace, but the better people get along with each other, and – perhaps even more importantly – the more people respect each other, the better your office will function.
Employee satisfaction is a multi-faceted beast. It involves satisfaction from the work itself, satisfaction from the effect the work has on the larger company, the customer, or the world at large, and satisfaction with the work environment itself. Very few employees who are doing great work will stick around if they can’t stand their boss or co-workers. Social connections within the workplace are very important, and that includes the connection that leadership has with employees.
The start of this connection begins during the hiring process. This is when you, the leader, first get a sense of how a person will function in their job, but also how they’ll function with the rest of the office. Are they someone who will bring a new perspective? Are they someone who will listen to others and add to the morale of the office rather than taking away from it? If all you look for in employees is hard work, you may end up bringing someone onto the team that hinders workplace connections rather than strengthening them.
If you can put together a team of individuals who all get along and are able to work well together, that’s great. If you’re able to create a team that becomes true friends, that’s even better. But it’s still not enough. Because employees who are loyal to one another aren’t necessarily loyal to the company or to you.
You don’t have to be best friends with everyone. If you’re not getting invited out to happy hours or taking your employees out for fun work lunches on a weekly basis, that’s fine. You don’t have to be that kind of boss in order to foster workplace development if that’s just not you.
But you do need to have your employee’s respect, and respect can’t be commanded – it needs to be earned.
How exactly you’ll earn your employee’s respect depends on a lot of factors. Hopefully, it will come down to how well you do your work, your personal integrity, and your ability to hold other people up. That last piece of the puzzle doesn’t come without some level of connection, because you need to have a solid sense of who your employees are – not just as workers, but as people – in order to promote, praise, and reward the best in your ranks.
If you can do that successfully and repeatedly, you’ll garner the respect and loyalty of those who report to you, which will help improve engagement and overall productivity.