Even the greatest and most well-intentioned of bosses can feel disconnected from their team sometimes. When you’re sitting in the corner office, people may hesitate to ask for your time. It’s your prerogative to get outside your own office and meet your team.

Whether that’s through town hall meetings, Friday afternoon mixers, or annual offsite events, it’s important for any boss to make the effort to get to know their team as individuals and to keep the lines of communication open.

Establish Town Hall Meetings

As an owner or senior manager within a company, you have insight into the strategic vision for the business, and that’s part of what gets you up in the morning. However, for those people who are not in leadership roles, they might not understand the larger goals for the company. How is the receptionist or the employee in the fulfillment center supposed to feel motivated to do their work if they don’t see how it connects to the greater aims of the business?

Regular town hall-style meetings, where every employee is invited to attend, hear about big changes and strategic decisions, and ask questions of leadership, are a great way to unify everyone. Even if they weren’t involved in the decision-making process, the employee who understands the bigger picture and has the opportunity to question or comment upon the choices leadership has made will feel more engaged and motivated to do their best work.

Embrace Team-Building Exercises

Team-building exercises have gotten a bad rap. But when they’re done properly, they can be a great way to loosen your team up and break down barriers among different levels of seniority. We’re not talking about trust falls in the break room – there are team-building exercises that can have a real impact.

This openness is critical because when people feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work, they perform better in their roles. A study from Google found that creating a psychologically safe space, where employees feel free to make mistakes and suggestions without judgment, is the top factor in creating a high-performing team.

The success or failure of a team-building exercise falls on the manager. If you look like you don’t want to be there and stiffly read the rules of the exercise off a sheet of paper, your team will match your level of enthusiasm.

Pick an activity or exercise that you genuinely think is fun, and share that with your team. If you need some suggestions, here’s a list to help get you started.

Get Everyone Outside the Office

Offsite events can be a great way to see other sides of your team’s personality. Some people will have trouble feeling comfortable being themselves in an office setting, so taking them outside your office walls can really build camaraderie in a whole new way.

Maybe the shyest person loves to belt out Cher songs at karaoke. Or maybe the person who seemed to have an edge at the office is incredibly kind and gentle with the animals at the shelter where you volunteer as a group.

Once you discover these secret sides of your employees, you’ll share a deeper bond. But it’s important that you let your guard down on these offsites, too, so your team learns something about you.

Communication is always a two-way street. Sharing where you and your company’s senior leadership are coming from is a great way to make employees feel more comfortable voicing their own thoughts and opinions. Whether that’s through a more formal meeting in the office or a trip to the local bowling alley after work, making your team feel comfortable and understood will help you get the best work from them.

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