Did you know that your treatment of others can affect not only their emotional health, but their physical health over time? Employees who work in organizations where their overall health and well-being is at the core of managerial decision-making and communication often share that they are more productive, willing to work through problems and exhibit a stronger commitment to success in their role. We don’t use the term “grow” to describe relationships for no reason. With care and nurturing, relationships flourish.


Here are a few simple ways to grow and nurture powerful, fruitful relationships with anyone at work:

  1. Be an attentive listener. Put away technology.
  2. Look at the person with whom you are speaking. Give them your full attention.
  3. Be an effective listener. Process what they are saying to understand; not to respond.
  4. Ask how you can help. Even if they don’t have anything that they can share with you to do, just the fact that you asked establishes a true connection and sense of support.
  5. Disagree respectfully. Challenging your team members is actually super-productive (if executed with respect). Even when you don’t agree about a project approach or task. Be patient, helpful and remain open-minded. Most single decisions won’t tank a project, so be flexible, go with the flow, be willing to try a new “way” … and, most of all, compromise.
  6. Spread positive “gossip.” Generally, I advise against gossip. Here is the exception: next time you’re out to lunch, in the break room, or hanging out waiting for the copier-tech to finish repairs… Tell team members about the good work that your co-workers are d
    oing; how much you appreciate their support, help and guidance.
  7. Say thank you and show appreciation: a single small piece of a team member’s favorite candy, a flower, a cup of coffee delivered to their desk by you. Whatever you know your team member likes, be gracious and giving. Show appreciation for efforts, achievements, great ideas and as a “pick me up” when you know someone is having a rough day.

A Special Note for Leaders: How and When to Show Concern for Struggling Team Members

I started to follow this practice in earnest about 20 years ago when I dove headlong into my first leadership role with a City of Tempe (Arizona, USA) after school program … I often heard other managers jump in to tell folks what was wrong with their performance or behavior at work, but didn’t offer a word of support to go with it. Now, after decades of leadership and HR experience, I have a firm grip on the “progressive” process for handling discipline and employee guidance, but it should always include a conversation that communicates concern for well-being.

This is how it goes: 

  • When you first notice a behavior or performance problem, discuss it right away – no “waiting around” for it to go away by itself.
    • The issue: Your employee, Angela, arrived to work 15 minutes late, twice this week.
  • First meeting: Angela, I see that you’ve been late to work twice this week. That’s not good. What’s going on? Is everything ok? 
    • (Angela tells you she was recently forced to move out of her apartment, which was in walking distance to work, with short notice, and has been sleeping on friends’ couches while she searches for a new one). 
  • Second meeting (check in timely, before there is another issue): Angela, I just wanted to check on you. Tuesday you told me you’ve been struggling with your move from one apartment to a new one. How is that going? Is there anything I can do to help? 
    • (Angela says it’d be great if you could ask around and see if anyone has an open seat for carpool near her new apartment.)
  • Third meeting: Angela – how’s that new car pool with Jose going? Did you guys get all set up? 
    • (They did! And Angela meets Jose at the bus stop by her new apartment every morning, on time – and they are both arriving to work on time!)



The leader’s ultimate responsibility is to facilitate success. Employees need support in all areas of their life to be successful. That even includes helping with things like finding a new carpool buddy from time to time.

Bottom line: Create a workplace where being human is allowed. Reap the rewards and fruits of your labor. 


Contact us for more information on how you can work with the HR Answers team to design and implement programs that will help your team build productive, enjoyable relationship at work. Here are a few ways we help our clients improve workplace relationships:

  • Communications Skills Workshop and/or training
  • Team Building 1/2 day experience
  • Conflict Resolution Facilitation
  • Complaint process management and investigations

What can we take off your plate? Send a note and we’ll be in touch!