You’re a new manager, coming in to meet with your employees. What is the best way to make a good impression and earn trust with the employees quickly? Hint: It’s not by immediately running down your educational background and list of credentials. Instead, try spilling your coffee, tripping as you enter the room, or making some other small but noticeable mistake. The point is, don’t take yourself so seriously.
Sound crazy? It’s not — as long as you really do have the background and credentials to give yourself credibility. For the past 50 years, researchers have been studying how people can make themselves more likable, and one classic study found that a high-performing person who does something a little vulnerable becomes more attractive to those observing.
Understanding this can help make you come across as more human and approachable — good traits for managers to have. Here are other ways to get your employees to warm up to you quickly:
1. Take the time to listen.
You might consider sitting down one-on-one with your key staff members right away to get a good feel for what makes them tick. Listen to what they like about the company now and what they’d like to improve about themselves and their working conditions. Understand that without much initial rapport that they may not open up right away, so encourage them to come to you with any feedback they have.
2. Schedule some social activities.
Activities outside of the office open up new communication opportunities. If it’s a company happy hour, you may have a conversation with a person on a completely different “non-work related” topic or perhaps discover a shared interest that you would not have discovered in the office setting. If the company outing is to a go kart track or a baseball game, employees now have a conversation piece that isn’t work related like “I was in first place until that last turn!” or “Can you believe how far that home run traveled?”. It not only makes employees more interactive, but it is human nature to want to have things in common with others outside of just work.
3. Continue to make yourself seem “human.”
People make mistakes. Own your mistakes and let people know that you made the error and will try and remedy it the best you can. This will not only show that you are human, but will show your employees that you don’t blame your mistakes on others. Employees will be more open to communicating their own problems and mistakes if they see the environment you encourage is not hostile, and trust that you value learning from those mistakes to make things better.