Ask an MSP Expert

Q: I’m starting to build a small team at my MSP, but it feels like I only talk to my employees when something goes wrong or when there’s a fire they need help putting out for a customer. What are some tips I can use to create more positive interactions with my staff?

As a manager, it’s important to have positive conversations with your employees on a regular basis. While every interaction with your employees might not be positive, building a professional relationship with your employees can help improve the office morale, productivity, and retention. Ultimately, if you’re only calling employees into your office when something goes wrong or when there’s a client problem, employees will be apprehensive every time you need to talk.

To create valuable connections with your employees, we sought advice from Quiana Roy, the HR Representative at Barracuda MSP. Based on her experience, she shared her advice on how managers and business owners can have more positive engagements with their teams.

Building a positive work environment

Managers can’t expect to have positive engagements with employees without first taking the time to establish a positive environment. A positive work environment can boost employee morale and keep employees engaged and invested in their day-to-day tasks. More importantly, a positive environment can get employees to buy into the company’s values and mission. To build a positive environment and have better engagements with your employees, you need to do these three things:

1. Establish a rapport

Make an effort to establish rapport with your employees through regular one-on-one meetings, team building activities, and daily interactions. Positive relationships are built on strong foundations, so these interactions need to stay consistent throughout the year. During the one-on-ones, find commonalities between you as people. Do you both have kids, pets, or both love a certain TV show? Aside from your business relationship, find a way to connect with each team member on a more human level. Finding common ground outside of your office walls gives both of you the opportunity to discuss a topic other than clients, deliverables, or anything pertaining to the business.

Having regular one-on-ones also gives you the opportunity to coach, guide, and mentor. Talk to your team about how they envision the future and how you can take steps together to help them achieve their career goals. Having these meetings helps employees know what the expectations are, and it can also help you tailor the message to suit each employee. After all, different personalities can react differently to situations or feedback. For example, an employee might be more receptive to constructive feedback after their morning coffee.

2. Introduce consistency

Consistent interactions help managers connect with their staff members, whether it is one-on-one or interactions with the whole team, it is important to engage with your team daily. Managers should always be seeking out new team building exercises to boost the staff’s morale both in and out of the office; this could be a team lunch, an activity, or even a small office competition.

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Consistent interactions also present opportunities to discover new challenges that may exist in the operation that might require more attention and effort to resolve which could’ve otherwise gone undetected and unaddressed. Maintaining a level of consistency also shows your team that you are equally committed to making steps towards improvement.

3. Develop a focus

Your communications with employees should be focused on both individual and team goals. When it comes to developing those goals, make sure you set measurable targets and milestones. Good goals should be attainable and come with clear guidance on how to achieve them. With clear actions, instructions, and milestones, you can set up your employee—and your business—for success.

When you’re having one-on-ones with your employees, take the time to highlight their unique traits and skillsets that can be used to positively impact the business’ daily operations. These discussions should leave everyone with a greater sense of confidence and a better understanding of the path moving forward.

Employees who feel like their manager is their success ambassador are more likely to achieve their individual goals, and in turn, they can become more influential team members for the organization. Success and accomplishment naturally breed pride of ownership, so a tight-knit team with strong leadership will always yield increased productivity, improved results, and a positive workplace culture.

Creating a close-knit team might not happen overnight, but by following Quiana’s tips, you can help bring your team closer together and create a more positive environment. If you align individuals’ goals with the objectives of the business, it will create a win-win scenario for both parties.

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Photo:  fizkes / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

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