Relationships: Maintaining Good Employee Camaraderie

For the next article in the relationships series, we’ll look at building relationships with employees. When dealing with employees, I use an approach I like to refer to as the Five E’s:

  • Employee
  • Engagement
  • Education
  • Exposure
  • Envision

See if or how you can add any of these strategies to your employee relationship-building arsenal.


The reason my Five E’s begins with employees is that the employee is the beginning. Until they enter the picture, there is no relationship to be had. To make the most of it, my first suggestion is to start by choosing an individual with the characteristics, demeanor, temperament, etc., that you want for that position. I am a firm believer that all other necessary skills are learnable.


By engagement, I mean interacting with, getting to know, learning about, and taking an opportunity to understand your employees. Don’t create a division between management and staff—this old way of thinking is detrimental to business today. My suggestion is to treat your employees like you should be treating your customers. Listening, learning what their wants and needs are, understanding their pains, knowing about special events in their lives, hobbies, etc. By engaging, you are not only making them more comfortable, but you are also making them feel welcome and a part of something. As a general rule, people like to be appreciated, and engagement shows just that.


In this aspect of building a relationship with an employee, it is about their growth. I feel that people, as a whole, enjoy learning. I differ from some because I believe that people don’t want to know just anything, nor do they want to learn things that won’t benefit them. Instead, they’d rather learn something that gives them status in their circles, helps them achieve their desired goals and things they enjoy. By teaching them things that fit into these caveats and benefit the organization, you take steps toward having an employee that wants to learn, a better-positioned business, and a more mutually rewarding relationship.


When building a relationship with employees and people in general, exposure is attractive and inspiring. New is the breath of life, and that does not have to mean the newest thing on the market, just new to them. Keep in mind that people today see something new many times every hour, so you may have to keep exposing them to try holding their attention in some regards. While people as a whole do appreciate some form of structure, very few appreciate the mundane. This is where exposure fits best. It is a key to changing things up and enhancing the relationship. Bringing in new items, introducing new ideas, bringing in guests, customers, random ice cream days, etc., and allowing your staff to do the same, breaks up the monotony in and around the workplace. It introduces excitement and energy and positions yourself as the person who makes it happen and further promotes the relationship, and enhances work output by creating a desire to be around you and in your place of work.


Helping your employees envision themselves, where they want to go, where they can go, and how you can help them get there is another excellent way to build and enhance those relationships. Just make sure it’s understood that for you to help them get where they want to go, you need their help to make it happen. By helping them envision a future, you are creating opportunities to further enhance your bond, continue your development as productive members of society, and build stronger, more focused, and goal-oriented ties.

And remember, whether this relationship exists under your tutelage for decades or not, by building it now, you are also building a future referrer, customer, partner in business, or business partner for tomorrow.

Kirk Harris

Kirk Harris

Kirk Harris currently serves as president of Atlanta-based Kaptain Kirk Clothing Co. Harris' love of apparel began with retail in the late '90s and in 2006 he founded his first clothing line. In 2012 his journey led him to apparel decoration and in 2014 he settled into his current position. He's reachable at, 404-396-7171, or

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