As a leader, employee satisfaction should be at the top of your priority list. When employees are engaged, your customer service is better, your financial outlook is better, and your organizational culture is more attractive from the inside out. Creating higher employee satisfaction allows you to recruit your best talent and retain your best people, all while reducing that pesky turnover we hate so much. The most important thing you can do to set your working relationship up for success with your team members is to make sure that there are clear expectations on both sides of the equation. You as a leader need to be very clear about what it is you expect from them, and also don’t shy away from listening to them about what it is they expect from you in the relationship.

Setting Clear Expectations

I remember starting in a mid-level manager role before, and I thought my expectations were set on the table and clear as day. But as I went about doing the work that I thought I should be doing, I encountered resistance and shortly realized that that wasn’t at all what they expected from me. You can imagine this created a lot of frustration on my end. When an employee feels like they know what’s expected of them, they can go about doing that confidently, and they automatically feel successful in doing so. The opposite is also true if we are not clear with our team members in advance about what it is that we want them to do and vice versa. They will become frustrated, and it will become demotivating, which eventually will decrease their satisfaction and ultimately make them now want to stay within the organization.

Establishing Relationships & Introducing Different Circles

Another thing you can do with your team members is ensure that they know other people at work and that they begin to establish bonds early on. Gallup has been reporting for years now that employees stay longer at their jobs because they feel like they have friends there. This becomes a big reason why there is an increase in both job satisfaction and workplace retention. One way to encourage bonds is to create a buddy system within your team, where you assign someone to the new team member. Making sure that they go to lunch together, and that they show them around town and where things are inside the building or in your organization, such as internal resources. This is a great way to set them up for success.

As we think about creating those bonds and those friendships at work, another key aspect is making sure we introduce our team members to different circles, so they aren’t actually in silos, and they aren’t having homogeneous belief systems. Give them a start where they can really open their minds and flourish. I remember working in an organization where my manager actually took me to lunch that first week, even the first day, and it really meant a lot to me that he slowed down enough to spend that time with me. It may not seem a lot to you at the moment, but it could really play a huge part in making your new employees feel comfortable and welcomed. 

Increasing Employee Satisfaction

Although creating bonds is critical, increasing employee satisfaction is another thing to focus on. Within a team member’s first 90 days, we need to be sure they have all the right tools to be successful. They need to know their designated workspace and, what software is needed, everything they may need to go about doing their job, so they can feel successful early on. If we don’t do that, they feel like they’re falling down, and that will create a lot of friction, making them go down the spiral of, “Do I really want to stay here long term.?” 


I remember working for an organization that had a checklist that their IT and HR team worked collectively on to make sure I had all my access points and was introduced to the right people along the way. They made sure that I had my workspace in order, and my chair was great – it was just a seamless process that made me feel successful early on and like I belonged as we checked those boxes together. I already felt like I was a valuable team member and that I could be successful on that team. All three elements are really important in building a winning culture of increased employee engagement and overall satisfaction.