As a manager, it pays to build and maintain a good relationship with those who report to you. But getting to that place requires some effort on your part, particularly when it comes to addressing your team's needs. With that in mind, here are just a few things you can do this year to show your employees you truly care.

1. Ask, don't tell

As a manager, your goal is to ensure that teamwide goals are met and that your employees, as a group, live up to their responsibilities. But that doesn't mean you don't have some flexibility with who gets to do what. So rather than assign tasks and projects without your team's input, sit down with each of your direct reports individually and ask what he or she would be happy working on. Even if you can't adhere to those requests entirely (say, there are a couple of projects everyone wants and a couple nobody wants), you can do your best to cater to them to the greatest extent possible.

Professional male standing over a group of coworkers, reviewing documents


2. Give frequent, constructive feedback

Many employees receive extensive feedback from their managers just once a year, and it comes in the form of an annual performance review. But these days, a growing number of companies are doing away with this system and are instead encouraging more of a continuous feedback model, so to speak, where managers provide informal feedback throughout the year. Even if your company has yet to make this change, you can implement it yourself by scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with your team members and using that time to offer a healthy mix of constructive criticism and praise. This way, your employees will have a better opportunity to address their shortcoming during the year, and will no doubt appreciate you taking the time to help them improve.

3. Solicit employee feedback, too

While offering your own feedback on the regular is a good way to show your employees you care, it's equally important for that line of communication to go both ways. Therefore, make sure to give your team members ample opportunity to speak their minds, whether in a group setting or during those one-on-ones. The better a job you do at gauging their happiness and stress levels, the better their performance is likely to be.

4. Be flexible

As a manager, it's your job to ensure that deadlines are met and work gets done as needed. But that doesn't mean you can't give your team some leeway. As long as your company doesn't prohibit it, consider offering a flexible work arrangement to those who need it, whether that entails leaving early a few days a week or working from home on occasion. Those who get more flexibility will not only appreciate it, but pay that courtesy forward by stepping up performance-wise.

5. Be open to new ideas

It's easy to get set in a routine when you've done things a certain way and it's historically worked. But when you show your team that you're open to new ideas, it sends the message that you value their creativity and input. So the next time an employee of yours suggests a different approach to a recurring assignment, roll with it. It won't go unnoticed.

A good manager is one who not only produces results, but creates a team environment where everyone is, for the most part, content. If you follow these tips, your team is sure to appreciate your effort.