Great rapport is about comfortable and positive interactions that support the production of quality work. Rapport involves understanding and appreciating each of your team members. It requires positive conversation about current task and a little personal conversation.
Rapport involves feeling comfortable sharing a little about who you really are. This may involve mainstream hobbies, facts about your family or maybe your favorite book. You have to be a person and not just a professional.
Rapport is as much about other people as it is about yourself. Discover personal aspects of each team member. Know what makes each individual unique. Listen carefully to what they say, how they dress, how they interact and the things they like. You should see more than just a person who is technically competent. A leader sees interesting people, not just human resources.
Another component of rapport is showing respect for your team. This can be through comments, written notes, phone messages, texts, or in person communication. There are many opportunities to show gratitude and respect. You can show appreciation for team efforts, outcomes achieved and the expertise the team possesses. Look for opportunities to speak up and acknowledge the value added.
Rapport has its challenges when considering status at work. Status is real, even if it is not physically visible. There is power associated with being a leader or manager. As a leader, some people on your team will find it challenging to communicate with you directly.
If you are a boss, they might hesitate more, censor more or fear they are not meeting expectations. You can address the issue directly, at least once. Tell employees the should not hesitate to speak up and talk with you whenever needed. Then, privately, ask a few of employees for honest feedback on how you are doing. Be humble and really listen.
It can be useful to throw in a little self-deprecating humor once in a while to help others loosen up. Also, be sure to support and encourage debate. Many times, either in meetings or in formal discussion, lower status employees choose to not speak up when they disagree or wish to add another thought. They perceive a risk. As a leader, the goal is to reduce the perception of risk by encouraging and supporting difficult conversations with everyone on the team.