How To Make Boss-Employee Relationships Flourish

Healthy work relationships are crucial to the success of your company. Here's how to make sure you're headed in the right direction.
May 26, 2011

It is an archetype we've seen in the movies all too often: the boss who rules over his army of employees with an iron fist. Maybe you have even experienced it personally. When your superior looks at Glengarry Glen Ross as a management how-to, your morale is almost immediately in the dumps.

So how do you come off to your own employees? And how can you make it better?

According to Businessweek, it might help to think of the boss-employee relationship as being characterized by a set of promises. The boss, acting as employer, promises a degree of security and safety, such as health insurance and income, the resources to perform jobs, such as computers and a workspace, and opportunities for advancement in the company. In return, the employee promises the use of his skills and experience to do good work for the business.

It sounds like an agreeable arrangement, but things like personality quirks and external stresses can make negotiating day-to-day work life tricky. The key is to figure out how to get over these hurdles, which will seem quite tiny in hindsight. Watch what happens when your work relationships improve and everyone is firing on all cylinders at once. As the head of the company, this is absolutely a power you have at your disposal—so figure out how to access it.

Businessweek offers three suggestions to help make sure that your employees think highly of you and want to do good work.

1. Be transparent

Your employees want to know what's going on. Talk them through your thought process on different matters and let them know how things are going for the company in general. They can handle it. And if they're there for the right reasons, they will demonstrate an active interest in it.

2. Offer inexpensive perks

You do not need to be Google and do free laundry on-site or add a huge cafeteria with free food for every dietary need. Simple things like cookies at lunch or the one-time purchase of a communal ping-pong table will go far.

3. Consider how the things you do affect your employees

Quantum mathematician Michael Nielsen said, "A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points." When you act in a way that takes your employees into consideration, rest assured that it's noticed. It can be a great motivational tool—people are quick to see when they're being tread upon, but they're even quicker to see when someone is acting out of consideration for them.

When you put these three plans into play, it will generate an environment that fosters excellent relationships not just among coworkers, but also between bosses and their employees as well. And if you hope to lead the pack in your industry, you need everyone at work gunning hard and playing for keeps.

Once again: As the head of the company, you have the power to make this happen.