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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How to build a strong team - The power of authentic relationship building

Source: Free Stock Photos from Hubspot

How often do you ask your team members about how their social life is going, family and in general how their lives are overall ? Recently at work we've been starting to have more team meetings and it has reminded me of my first leadership position as president of student nonprofit. During that time I learned how important it is to develop strong authentic relationships with your team.  

The importance of relationship building

To be honest building relationships with people doesn't come naturally to me. I'm better at it now but at the time of my first leadership position I wasn't a very confident individual and felt pretty uncomfortable doing it so I didn't put too much emphasis on it. Instead I put my focus on the work that each of us needed to get done. As a result my team and I didn't have a strong relationship outside of work. I had higher turn over in my volunteer team, weaker team communication and lower overall volunteer commitment. It wasn't until Claudia Wong enlightened me with her leadership coaching visit that I realized how powerful authentic relationships can be on a team.

Claudia explained that as a part of her leadership process she made time to chat with her team leaders one on one about not only how their work is progressing but how they are doing in other areas of their life. For example, how their school work is going and even their relationships with their significant other and family. She brought to my attention a more holistic way of communicating with my team. 

Why is it important ?

This is because when things are going badly in other major areas of your life, it can impact your productivity and ability to deliver at work as well. As leaders aiming to achieve goals it is really helpful knowing if there is something that may be stopping your team-mates from delivering what you are expecting.I myself have had personal experiences where stress with a school group project deadline makes it harder to focus on work and also seen co-workers deteriorating personal relationship with their significant other affect their work output poorly as well. 

Following her advice with my own team got me better results than I initially expected...

The benefits of authentic relationship building within teams

I started scheduling blocks of time within the meeting agenda to talk about their lives and more than just work. We would touch base regarding all major areas in their life dealing with family, relationships and school. This allowed me to really start building authentic relationships with my team as I shared with them what was happening in my life as well. 

From a leadership perspective, knowing all of the things happening in their lives gave me a much better understanding of whether they could deliver on their part of the work as well as whether I could delegate more tasks to them. Because it led to a stronger and more authentic relationship with my team I also received both increased commitment but also much much more honest communications about what they found challenging and feed back for areas of improvement. This is because spending that time to develop authentic relationships also allowed us to developed trust. Lastly, I could start to see much more clearly what their aspirations were which made me better at motivating them. Knowing their motivation was really important because I led a volunteer based team and your productivity tends to correlate pretty strongly with your motivation.

Taking time to learn more about my team members helped me be a better leader overall and all I needed to do was ask a few more questions. 

Work is more fun with friends

One final benefit if your not convinced would be that its far more fun to work with a team who you have become truly good friends with. 

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By Stevie Vu
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