I distinctly remember sitting at my desk in the cool downtown Chicago digs of the Richard Michael Group many years ago. As a recruiter, it was my daily home for several years as I worked to find the best candidates for my clients.

I loved learning about people, their experiences and career desires as well as discovering the business goals of clients and how any one of my candidates could potentially assist in achieving them.

To be successful at both required having skilled conversations that could uncover information perhaps not clearly spoken and yet needed to be revealed.

Entwined in the skill of questioning was the ability to build rapport and to do so in such a way that a cautious vulnerability would unfold.

Rapport is an interesting word (ra-pore) and a critical quality for any conversation in which there are desired outcomes. Consider the definition and corresponding synonyms:

In leading and managing successfully, we talk a lot about “relating”, effective communication, influence, and coaching as needed elements. And yet, when contemplating the above definition of rapport, it certainly is an undeniable ingredient in all of these and yet not commonly considered.

Rapport is the connector that allows effective communication — for influence to occur.
It’s also the glue for an on-going, respectful relationship.

Looking closer at the definition and synonyms, let’s break it down. Rapport…creates closeness, harmony, mutual understanding, bonding and accord, through concern and empathy.

These are essential conditions that promote people getting along, getting things done, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion…many of the workplace operational and cultural issues discussed today.

In my view, I see it as a management and leadership competency or as I like to call it a human capability. I’ve come to see that the most successful companies have leaders (and a culture) that are very much in touch with their own humanness and lead from there and serve their customers and clients from there. For those companies that don’t, they tend to suffer with multiple, perpetual employee problems.

And that’s why our consulting practice helps HR professionals, key decision-makers and leaders reconnect with the human side of business enterprise, constructively and profitably connecting it with the operations and desired outcomes of a company. We work in the “human sphere”.

Consider this: Most employee performance problems are due to a break down or a lack of established, sustained rapport with fellow co-workers, direct management or upper level leadership.

Coaching tip: Examine the role of rapport in your organization, starting with you and those you lead. Then evaluate each leader and manager and the leadership culture as a whole.

Side Note: By the way, that’s why we emphasize leadership and management development as a key strategy of successful talent management. Many companies put much effort into acquiring talent, but little into working with those that manage that talent. Doesn’t make sense does it? To learn more about the work we do – click here