What lies behind a successful business is more than what's on the monthly progress reports. From the owners to the new guy on the team, an effective working relationship is a crucial component of an efficient, well-oiled machine. If your employees are happy, chances are they'll perform well. And in turn, so will your company. A New York University study found that employee productivity is directly linked to the relationship employees have with their superiors, so foster this relationship by looking beyond what's on paper.

Motivating Your Employees

Think about what motivates your employees and what keeps them loyal, and don't assume that money's the main motivator here. Maybe it's a love of animals that keeps your employees coming to your vet clinic or a love of children that keeps them coming to work at your preschool. So, what keeps your employees coming? Is it the reward of helping those in need? Recognizing motivation will help you regard your employees as individuals who want to come to work, and not as mere task doers who come to work simply to fill out a time card.

Setting Goals

It may be tempting to set wildly optimistic goals that your employees will never meet, in the hopes that they will somehow rise to the occasion. This could leave your team frustrated, and ultimately, your team might hold this viewpoint against you for making them jump through impossibly high hoops. By setting achievable goals for your employees, they might not only achieve their goals but also surpass them by leaps and bounds. The latter is a great morale booster, and in turn, isalso a great way to retain employees.


Delegating tasks serves as a teaching opportunity and as an empowerment tool. If a young reporter wants to try her hand at editing when the assistant editor is out, let her go for it. When an inexperienced but talented new architect asks to help with a senior architect's account, tell him that it's fine with you if the other architect agrees. Regardless of what happens, you and your employee will be able to acknowledge and understand his strengths and weaknesses, which is helpful for both sides.


Keeping an open-door policy is an effective way to maintain humanity in stressful industries. Remind your employees that you always have a ready ear. Not only will this help build rapport, it also will give you a heads-up so that you can work together to resolve current issues. Open, honest communication between boss and employee builds a working relationship and helps foster mutual respect.


Go ahead and hit that happy hour or bowling night arranged by the company. Out-of-office events help alleviate social awkwardness between you and your staff by allowing your employees to see another side of you. It reminds them that behind that serious boss exterior lives an actual human being who enjoys having fun, just like they do.

Creating a Recognition Culture 

Recognizing effort and achievement is self-reinforcing because employees who feel like their hard work is getting noticed tend to perform better. Keep in mind to spread the positive feedback wealth. It's easy to recognize your stand-out employees but you may have to put more effort into finding reasons to dish out the same to your underachievers or anyone with whom you just don't gel. This can be something as simple as acknowledging her contribution of one good idea during a conference call with clients, but it could go a long way after she leaves the office. She may even be inspired to step up her game and become one of your stellar staffers. Adding the recognition or praise of two employees to your daily objective list will help you remember.


Praise is an easy way to boost morale or a good start on improving employee relations. If this is what you need, try these suggestions:

Hunt for the positives in your employees. Superiors are conditioned to look for problems, but dedicating the energy to see employees doing their jobs well is less stressful for all involved.

Skip the generic, "Good job the other day." Be specific. Instead, say: "Joe, you really nailed the closing on Tuesday's presentation." Being specific will make your employee feel valued, and he'll know that you're paying attention to him and his contributions.

It's paramount to praise the employee as soon as possible after the noted event so that the praise doesn't lose steam with the passage of time. Don't wait too long between the day that Tom closed the deal on that big sale and telling him, "Nice job, Tom. You closed that huge account we've been wanting for a very long time."

This isn't the time to discuss the employee's positives and negatives. Don't tell her, "Great job, Suze, but it could be even better, if you just did..." Focus on the positives and save constructive criticism for another time.

Getting birthday cards and the expected "Employee of the Month" honors are nice. But it's better to honor your employee with something unexpected, such as a surprise visit from the owner, telling the employee that securing that hard-to-get lucrative contract -- was a major accomplishment.