Old School Challenge!


“How do I build relationships with my remote workers?”

So far this month, I have been asked this question 5 times!

Like you, the leaders I partner with recognize the importance of building a solid relationship with their team members – both remote and on-site!

Investing time to build connections makes employees feel valued, supported and understood. Trust in their leader increases and their commitment to the team and goals shoots up too. Your remote workers feel like they are ‘in the know’ and so are more apt to jump in to collaborate and engage, offering ideas that will drive the team toward your collective goals.

In a study done by McKinsey & Company, the top three reasons people quit their job was that they didn’t feel valued by their organizations or their managers or because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work.

So, how do you build relationships with your team?

My advice – Go Old School!

Pause for a minute – think about someone you have a great relationship with. Got them in your mind? When you met, the relationship wasn’t strong – so how did it grow into the connection you have now? What took place to build it into the one you thought of just now?

Pretty sure that you went Old School! (even if you didn’t know it!)

Invest and dedicate time!

When you first meet, there are awkward ‘get-to-know-you’ questions until you find common ground. Then the conversation gets easier, both sharing what they know and their experiences on that topic. Over time, you create a regular cadence to talk or meet – investing time to stay engaged in each other’s lives. Finding more topics to share and building a relationship. It is a natural evolution.

A year ago, I conducted an engagement survey with a large corporate team. One prominent result from the survey was “my leader doesn’t care about me.” When I dove into the comments, a common complaint was that their leader always canceled or deferred their 1:1 meeting.

Has that ever happened to you? How did it feel? Not great! Devalued, unimportant, frustrated… I’m sure you could add a few other emotions.

Team members want to share their progress, get confirmation on their direction, and even talk about their future goals and development. They can’t do that if they don’t get time on the calendar.

I challenge you to make your 1:1 meeting immovable! Block the time, turn the meeting a color that reminds you it’s immovable, and stick to it. Show your team that they matter and that’s why you are investing and dedicating time to them. That alone will boost your relationship with your remote employees!

Pick up the phone

Text and email are abundant in our workplace lives. Unfortunately, they leave room for interpretation of tone and attitude. Too often the original intent is perceived incorrectly, damaging the relationship, even when it is just about work.

Recently, a client shared that they were struggling with their manager and proceeded to share how their manager ‘talked’ to them in an email. I challenged her to pick up the phone and ask for clarity verbally.

Turns out her perception was not her manager’s intention at all. Picking up the phone to talk about it built their relationship up, and showed that she cared enough about her results and the relationship to take time to talk – rather than shoot off another email.

The good news is, the phone doesn’t have a 6-foot cord and no rotary dial is needed. Your phone is probably sitting right next to you as you read this – handy!

I challenge you to implement a 2-Time Email Rule. Do not reply to the same email string twice. If the email comes back in your inbox for the 2nd time, grab the phone and have a chat. Don’t worry about the time, focus on creating clarity and learning about each other while driving work forward. You will get a glimpse into your team member’s work style, ideas, values, and much more!

Write it out!

Last night, a prominent business partner shared how one of her clients wrote her a heartfelt thank-you note. It was handwritten and mailed (yes, with a stamp!). She shared how touched she was. Then she said that she has a special spot on her desk just for notes like this from clients or team members.

The company I used to work for had a peer reward system – when someone did something above and beyond you grabbed a paper gold star, wrote out what they did and how it impacted you, and passed it along to them. About 5 years after this program ended there were still paper gold stars all over the office! Taped to cabinets, on bulletin boards, and even pined on stuffed company mascots.

Companies have tried to implement electronic versions of similar programs but the impact isn’t as great because it isn’t a physical tangible item. Note this – when a team member sees that written note, the original feeling when they read it comes rushing back – they don’t even have to read it. The extra few minutes it takes you to write a note is treasured for years to come.

I challenge you to send written notes. Pick 3 events; birthdays, work anniversaries, and key accomplishments (or any other favorite milestone!) Plain old dollar store notes work, they don’t have to be fancy. Scribe 3-4 sentences and put an ‘old-school’ stamp on the envelope. Do not worry about your handwriting, that is not what your team members will remember!

You feel good when you send it and they feel great when they get it!

We have a lot of efficiencies and effective tools today that we didn’t have back in the day. Having said that, there are a few old-school relationship-building habits that are worth carrying into the next generation!

Well, do you accept these challenges? I sure hope so! You already know the value – increased alignment, higher engagement, and a better understanding of your team! Go for it!

What other old-school habits are you doing that we should all remember to carry forward? Let me know so I can share!

Learn 6 Strategies to Build Powerful Workplace Relationships

Get 6 Strategies to Build Powerful Workplace Relationships

Learn my IMPACT Formula to communicate with confidence & clarity: created especially for women leaders navigating corporate teams.
Get 6 Strategies to Build Powerful Workplace Relationships
Learn my IMPACT Formula to communicate with confidence & clarity: created especially for women leaders navigating corporate teams.