How to Build Quality Relationships with Your Staff

October 14, 2021

According to a study by Olivet Nazarene University, individuals consider 41 percent of their coworkers to be just that: coworkers. An additional 20 percent are classified as “only-at-work friends,” 15 percent “real friends,” 22 percent “strangers,” and 2 percent “enemies.”

The vast majority of individuals here cast their associates in a positive light, which is promising. It also further speaks to the fact that building quality relationships in the workplace is essential to individual happiness and shared success. After all, the workplace plays a central role in our lives. We spend more time at work or in a home office versus any other activity. And our relationships dictate our mental stamina, perception, and overall satisfaction in our jobs.

Want to learn more about how to build quality relationships with the staff at your dental practice? Here are some tips to get you started.

Build the Foundation

Building a solid foundation with your staff begins with your first impression during the hiring process. Humans require meaningful connection and need to feel safe to thrive. This is why it’s essential to establish a supportive and positive work environment from day one. Greet your candidates with a smile, let them know more about you, the position requirements, and how they can help you grow and succeed. Along with this, ensure you listen to them, their story, and why they applied for the position. Once they join your team, follow the steps below to ensure an easy transition.

Grant Your Trust, and Gain Theirs

Employees crave trust because it allows them the space to innovate, share new ideas, and elevate the office. This isn’t to say that they don’t require structure and strong leadership. These things are necessary, as humans also thrive in routine and with solid examples and clear expectations. Rather, employees want you to trust that they will get the job done without micromanaging, adding unnecessary stress, and exhibiting constant surveillance. They want to feel self-sufficient within the support network of the team.

Paul J. Zak with Harvard Business Review explains that “those working in high-trust companies enjoyed their jobs 60% more, were 70% more aligned with their companies’ purpose, and felt 66% closer to their colleagues. And a high-trust culture improves how people treat one another and themselves.”

How do you do this?

For one, talk the talk and walk the walk.

Individuals appreciate when their superior is a mentor, making good on promises and holding themselves accountable in the same way they hold their employees accountable. This means if you set a start time of 8 a.m. each day, be there beforehand. You can only expect to hold your employees to the principles you follow. If you set a meeting or a review, honor those commitments. Admit fault when necessary, and don’t waste others’ time. Employees will respect a boss with humility, and it will help you gain their trust and admiration.

Hire the right people for the right position.

This cannot be understated. A good example is hiring an introvert to man the front desk. If they’re not particularly friendly or good at interacting with guests, that’s your fault, not theirs. Understand who you’re hiring before you hire them. Profile candidates and determine if they will succeed in the role based on their preferences, skills, and personality. Your staff will trust your judgment and decision-making abilities by hiring the right people for the right positions.

Listen to your employees.

They’re smart. Trust their instincts and ask the right questions. Hold a consistent, scheduled weekly or monthly meeting and open the floor to discuss what you’re doing well and what you can improve on. Take it a step further and ask for ideas on improvement. Team camaraderie is built on shared trust and communication.

Show Acceptance

It is essential that employees feel comfortable and accepted in the workplace. In an increasingly political world, we get enough judgment daily via social media, our friends and family, etc. Our work environment needs to be a safe space for everyone. Ensure that each individual understands a zero-tolerance policy for hate, petty drama, arguments, and discrimination. Hold each other accountable and ensure each individual feels safe and heard.

To build safe spaces and help foster relationships amongst different like-minded individuals, consider starting social groups for your employees or signing the team up for a recreational league, activity, or class. Once individuals find others in the workplace who can relate to them via shared hobbies, it becomes much easier to bond and grow together.

Establish an Open Line of Communication

Establishing an open line of communication is critical for any individual in a position of leadership. Your responsibility is to encourage growth and development, eliminate fear and judgment, and watch your employees thrive. This is done by allowing employees to feel safe, being positive, and maintaining a professional environment.

Set aside time each month to connect with your team, discuss their lives and ways you can show them support, and ask them for suggestions to improve the company. This display of humility is admirable and will make your employees feel proud to work for a company that values their input and hard work.

Invest in Their Health and Education

Another great way to build a quality relationship with your staff is to invest in your employees. Education and healthcare are two of the highest costs in the 21st century. And employees appreciate an employer who offers a quality healthcare policy with vision and dental. Another thing to consider is setting up a health savings account (HSA) for each employee. Employees also appreciate employers who match a portion of their 401K.

A 2018 study by the AICPA showed that 80 percent of Americans “would choose a job with benefits over an identical job that offered 30 percent more salary but no benefits.”

A quality benefits package is becoming more and more essential, and individuals on the job hunt will likely ask, so think ahead of the curve and consider it an investment. After all, healthy individuals are less likely to call in sick to work, are more likely to feel happy, and will contribute to a greater ROI than sick and unhealthy employees.

As for education, consider offering scholarships or secondary education for your staff. This can include singular courses, language classes, bringing in guest speakers and expert team builders, or simply showing appreciation by assisting an individual with their student loans. Whatever the case, employees notice when a company invests in their education and growth. It shows that the company wants its employees to succeed, continue to be lifelong learners, and advance professionally and personally.

Respect their Time Off

Employees who work hard should also have the opportunity to relax. Respect your employees’ personal time and encourage them to have a healthy work–life balance. In the modern world, overtime is too normalized, and employee burnout is on the rise. In fact, after the pandemic forced many individuals to work remotely, the line between work life and home life is more blurred than ever before.

Even worse, a 2019 study found that American workers left 768 million vacation days unused. “Of the unused days, 236 million were forfeited completely, equating to $65.5 billion in lost benefits. More than half (55%) of workers reported they did not use all their allotted time off.”

It’s time to get our lives back on track. We work to find fulfillment, contribute to our company and society, build a home, and provide for our families. We don’t live to work: We work to live. Those things are very important to distinguish between. When your employees take vacation time, respect their space. Trust that they’ve worked hard to earn paid time off (PTO), and don’t interfere.

Show Appreciation

Our final tip for building quality relationships with your staff is to show appreciation. Employees love being recognized for the work that they’re doing, especially when they’ve gone above and beyond. Acknowledge the good things happening in your office, tell others you notice them, and share their work with others.

Consider hosting a monthly team event where you can showcase employees for exhibiting traits in line with your company values. For example, you can award an employee for showing kindness, grit, flexibility, and leadership qualities each month. Get others involved and have them say kind words about each other. This will help your team establish stronger relationships and appreciate each other for their unique contributions and work ethic.

Building quality relationships is key to the success of your dental practice. From gaining mutual trust to showing accountability, making time for others, and more, there are many areas in which you can focus your efforts. Remember that individual success is essential for shared success. Celebrate the small victories, listen to your employees, and practice humility. It will go a long way in building relationships with your team.