Keys to building rapport with your staff this Christmas

The Law of Connection, leading author and trainer on Leadership John Maxwell says is one of the 21 qualities a leader must have to be a great leader. The key to connecting with others is the rare and highly valuable skill of listening. Indeed I would go so far as to say that listening and possessing the ability to connect with others is so valuable that if applied in your leadership, it could save your business thousands of dollars. This is quite a claim so let me unravel this and explain.

List the people who have truly listened to you, whom you believe have a good grasp of who you are as a person and, with whom you have shared a great connection. Think about those people and reflect on why it is you feel connected to them. Write down your thoughts and look for keys with which you can apply yourself in your world. Think about how you feel towards those people who have connected with you. Do you want to spend time in their company? When they need help do you put aside your agenda and meet their need? When they call you, do you make time to hear from them? What are the emotions/feelings you have towards them? Is it a feeling of being valued or appreciated?

Sadly most people in our western culture will only be able to count a small number of people in this category. But this presents an incredible opportunity to build rapport with our staff and other key stakeholders. There are levels of connectedness of course that are appropriate in a business setting. Certainly however, we can have a great connection with colleagues and still stay within social boundaries.

Think about your staff for a moment. Imagine if members of your staff counted you as one of those people with whom they feel connected. If you have connected with them, as their leader, they may have those feelings of worth, value and of being appreciated. Imagine the resulting motivation that will come with such rapport. Employees who feel listened to, who feel they have a boss who genuinely is concerned for their welfare and is interested in their lives will reward their leaders by being a better employee. Relationship and connectivity is built on purpose, and acts as a platform by which you the leader can build a better business outcome such as replacing staff occasionally rather than regularly.

This Christmas season, with its end of year lunches and outings, presents an incredible opportunity for leaders to connect on purpose with their staff and therefore build rapport with members of the workforce. Connecting is touching someone’s heart and it sends a message of value and appreciation. What a wonderful present to give to someone.

Here are 6 things you can do to build rapport and connect with your key stakeholders:

  • Listen without an agenda
  • Practise active listening (reflect back a summary of their main points)
  • Give them all of your attention during the conversation
  • Say very little about yourself
  • Ask about their lives and if you’re brave, for their opinion about something
  • Believe in them sincerely

Here are 6 open explorative questions to use as springboards for further friendly questioning. Adapt them to suit the circumstance, person and your style:

  • How long have you been with us now?
  • What led you into this line of work?
  • How does your family celebrate Christmas/this holiday season?
  • What do you like to do with your spare time? (Hobbies)
  • What is one thing that you would like to achieve this year?
  • Is there anything the company can do to help you achieve this goal?

Three things to do if you have a disgruntled employee wanting to dump on you:

  • Don’t react and stay calm and ensure your facial expressions remain open.
  • Acknowledge your interest in what they are saying and book a more appropriate time to discuss it so you can give them your 100% attention.
  • Ensure you follow up. This could be a vital piece of information you need to defuse potential trouble, saving you money.

In early 2012 Achievers Group will be offering you, one of our valued clients, a chance to grab limited seats in its new John Maxwell leadership Mastermind Groups where you can learn more about Maxwell's tried and tested leadership laws. Register your interest by emailing

About Ingrid Aitken Gattari, Achievers Group

Ingrid Aitken Gattari is the wife of Tony Gattari. She is executive director at Achievers Group. Ingrid has a wealth of experience across a number of industries and has worked in the fields of journalism, public relations, counselling and administration. Ingrid is highly qualified and has a degree in communication (journalism), a diploma in public relations and community services. Ingrid specialises as a trainer, facilitator and coach is the areas of team work, personal development and conflict resolution.

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