As a leader, if you sense something is “missing” between you and one of your people… there’s a good chance you’re right.

Hard-working people you lead relate to the tune sung by Patty Loveless. The lyrics…You don’t even know who I am… so what do you care if I go? Yes, it’s a story of a committed couple breaking-up and applies to work-life break-ups too.

In the USA, 50% of employees have quit their jobs to get away from their boss at some point in their career. (Gallup, 2013)

Stop and consider the people you’re leading (employees, direct reports, team members, clients/customers). Have you checked in with them to find out what matters to them? Do you know how they feel supported? Or unsupported?

If your answer is yes, then good on you! If not, and you sense something is missing, seize the opportunity to improve your rapport and save yourself the pain and costs associated with replacing a solid person.

I think there is a “lost and found” area in every business/work site (both literally and figuratively).

Some sad, bewildered, or hurt people—angry too, have lost their enthusiasm for work. They feel ignored and betrayed. They don’t want to leave.

They are LOST.

You care. You don’t want them to go. You want them at their best. You want inspiring, productive action from them.

They need to be FOUND.

Leader– it’s your move.

In this article…

You’ll get 3 ways to improve your rapport with the people you lead—even if they feel lost and abandoned.

This is how you do it…

1—Schedule some face-to-face time. Listen and follow-up.

This is an obvious choice when you trust your sense something is missing in your relationship.  If you can’t do the face-to-face then use the telephone with or without video to connect. Don’t promise a meeting if you think you can’t deliver on that promise.

If you need a conversation starter, simply ask:  How are you feeling supported/unsupported? What do you need from me?

Plan a quick follow-up call or email following the meeting to underscore your appreciation for the person. A small effort makes a big difference.

2— Remember the 6 most important words for any leader.

I admit I made a mistake.

Mark Goulston, M.D., a business psychiatrist offers 2 more steps in his article, How to Give a Meaningful Apology.

Here they are…

  • Admit that you were wrong and that you’re sorry.

I admit I made a mistake.

  • Show them you understand the effect it had on them.

I understand you made a special effort to meet with me and felt disregarded when I didn’t show. I appreciate your concern that your direct reports feel slighted when I don’t make time for them as a group too. Your disappointment that you weren’t introduced to the senior executives makes sense.

  • Tell them what you are going to do differently in the future so that it doesn’t happen again.

I will confirm our meeting by text at least 12 hours before it is scheduled. If you don’t receive a text from me, I want you to call me on my private line. I will also invite the senior executives to meet you and the other managers. Let’s schedule some time for me to meet with your direct reports.

3— Continue to build rapport by sharing something brief and personal.

Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk, promotes answering with something brief and personal when a co-worker asks, How was your weekend?  When you say more than the normal you’re giving the other something personal about you.

Notice the difference between these two responses…

  • How was your weekend Mary?

It was good… wish I could do it over. What about you?

  • How was your weekend Mary?

It was inspiring. I watched two movies, “Sully” and “Hidden Figures.” Wow. True stories about such brave, talented people. Made me think.

So now, in a brief 2-3 minutes, that co-worker knows your job area, what you do, and something personal about you. You’ve become three-dimensional. That’s important because whenever someone becomes three-dimensional to us, according to Ms. Fine, that person becomes more interesting and we care more about the person even if we don’t share similar interests.

How’s that for building a mutually, beneficial working alliance? Caring and interesting. Two rapport building factors.

Here’s your takeaway…

Make rapport-building a part of your daily activities with people you lead.

As a leader, if you sense you’ve lost someone, go find them. Listen to what matters to them and follow-up. Apologize meaningfully if needed. Build the caring and interest by sharing something personal.

Make the move.

What do you think? Would love to know.

Got leadership challenges? I’m your go-to coach with a therapy background.