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No matter the particular industry, location, organization size or other defining characteristic, one fact rings true for every company: Managers play a pivotal role in helping businesses thrive. Managers oversee day-to-day activities – they don’t just lead processes, they lead people. When they are doing the job right, they inspire their teams to live up to their potential, and the organization reaps the reward.

But, in order for managers to continually accelerate the success of the business and its people, they have to hone one very specific skill: the ability to build great relationships.

The connection between managers and team members will directly impact whether or not people go above and beyond for the business. Knowing the importance of building relationships, however, isn’t necessarily the same as knowing how to do it. In today’s fast-paced, “do more with less” corporate world, managers are time-starved and aren’t sure how to find time to dedicate to building relationships.

The solution? Managers need to repurpose the time they’re already spending.

Creating a manager-to-team member connection doesn’t have to take up tons of time. A subtle shift in existing activities and behaviors can make all the difference! Just think about it. How often do managers you ask team members or colleagues questions like:

  • “Hey, how’s it going?”
  • “How’s that project coming along?”
  • “What’s going on?”

These are common “drive-by” conversations. They happen all day, every day. They’re cursory, gratuitous and, in most cases, completely meaningless for the manager and for the employee.

Here’s the exciting part: By simply reframing the questions asked, managers can make a real connection and get useful information in just a few minutes. Wondering how it works? It’s easy! Encourage the managers at your organization to make the following questions part of their daily dialogue:

  1. What’s one thing that’s going really well for you right now?
  2. Tell me how that project is going. What are you learning so far?
  3. What’s one thing you’re struggling with right now?
  4. What’s the one thing about your job that you enjoy most – what makes it all worthwhile?

By asking more specific, targeted questions, managers can build relationships during drive-by conversations. The time and effort used will have major impact.

The right questions elicit responses that provide valuable insight into what motivates a person. They reveal new coaching opportunities and open the door for feedback or recognition. All of these things are part of the foundation for great relationships and prove that managers are invested in the team and care about the individuals and the work they are doing for the business.