Employee Relationships - 4 Stages ~ Read more from Inspiring Success

Employee Relationships – 4 Stages

One of the hardest elements of running your own business is more than training and developing great employees, it’s also about the employee relationships. You always think you do a great job of hiring the right person. You think you asked all the right questions. Then you go ahead a hire them and they are nothing like the person you thought they were going to be. Sound familiar? You have them do the same training you did. You give them all the tools that set them up for success. And yet, 3 months later you find you’re scratching your head wondering who the heck this person is.

Well, the good news is, is that you’re not alone. I break down the boss-employee relationship into these 4 main stages: 1) Courting, 2) Marriage, 3) Honeymoon, and 4) Commitment. Can you figure out why?

These four stages are easy to remember and apply to each of your employees. The goal of developing great employees is to not just get to the marriage stage but to the actual commitment stage. This commitment is where the success of your business is founded. Let’s delve into each one of them.

Employee Relationships: Courting

When you are beginning any type of relationship, there is always a courting stage. This is where both parties are putting on their best selves. You dress a little nicer, you act a little kinder, you are happier and full of energy. This is where employee relationships truly begin.

As a boss, you do this without even realizing it. Even if you are unsure about the person, you are interviewing or have doubts, they are the right fit. You, deep down want to have them like you, and love your business. You are selling yourself as a boss, leader and your business as the best place to work.

The potential employee is dressing to impress, they are full of life and putting their absolute best selves forward. Spit and shined as my father would say. They are absolutely wanting you to like them and find their resume attractive enough to go onto the next phase.

You are courting each other with the hopes there will enough of a connection, trust built and interest you can make it work. Think back to when you were interviewing all your current employees. What made them stand out during this stage?


Sweet! You made it. You, as the boss have decided that this person is the one. The potential employee is in agreement. You like them and their resume to propose. To ask them to marry your business by becoming an employee. The potential employee says yes! They like you and think your business is just amazing enough that they want to spend their life with you and your business.

This stage is literally the shortest stage. It’s all about the ceremonial aspects of the relationship. But it becomes one of the critical stages as it sets the foundation for the next two stages. Are you clear about your expectations of them? Are they clear about what they are agreeing to? Is there any ambiguity or uncertainty that could lead to divorce? This stage is the one where all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. There are no takebacks. Ok, everyone is on the same page, the signing ceremony happens, and you move into the next stage.


Oh my gosh, it’s real. It’s all falling into place. This new employee is absolutely the best. How could I be so lucky to have such a great employee? I know you’re reading this and you’re smiling. We’ve all been here before and yes, you guessed it. We’ll be there again. The first 2-3 months are truly the honeymoon stage. The employee is feeling confident in their new position; the training is running a long smoothly. Your employee relationships are off to a great start.

Yes, of course there are few hiccups. But there always are. You sail right through them, right? Adjust and adapt on the fly. This is the best boss-employee relationship ever! Even with at-will employment statuses there is still the probationary period. The learning curves. The hardest and most upwardly climb is in that the first 3 months. It’s also during this stage that as bosses we are most forgiving and as new employees, we are busting our butts to do better and be better. So, what’s next then?


This stage is where we transition from the honeymoon phase into the long-haul stage or our full commitment in the relationship. This is where the developing great employees comes together. The two key elements for this relationship to be long term and successful is communication and trust. You can never over communicate. You need to make sure you are switching up the communication approach – face-to-face, email, telephone, company chat software, regularly scheduled reviews and check-ins etc. From all of this communication, trust will be built.

When you hit this stage, you are thinking one of three things. First – great employee – how do I keep them? or Second – not so great employee – how do I end the relationship? or Third – it’s ok, how do I make it better?

If you are thinking the second one – how do I end the relationship. Then you need to make doubly sure you are dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. Even with an at-will state employment scenario, you want to eliminate any liability with letting them go.

If you are thinking the first or the third idea, then keep going. It means you are on track to developing a great employee that will hopefully be with you a long time. And yes, making the relationship better will make your business stronger. Investing in good employees bring so many benefits to you and your business. Here are three of those benefits:


You continued training and development programs help your employees build on their skills so they can become more productive to the organization. They in turn become better leaders and role models for those following. They in turn nurture and build strong employee relationships with others. Also, better productivity means a healthier bottom line.

Team Spirit

When developing great employees, it builds empathy within your staff which allows employees to gain a better understanding of each other’s job responsibilities. This fosters better teamwork. Better teams, mean better productivity. Better productivity means a healthier bottom line.

Personal Growth

When you develop your employees, you instill a certain quality of work ethic. With this, your employees begin to see an improvement in their work-life balance. Their personal growth as well begins to flourish. Regular training and development exercises can ensure your employees are able to achieve this while contributing to your business’s larger organizational goals. Happier employees mean better team spirit. Better team spirit leads to improved productivity. Improved productivity results in a stronger bottom line.

Do you see the pattern in the benefits to developing great employees? All stages of employee relationship are critical to your business success. Because of this, it is important for you to take the time regularly to assess where the relationship is, and how it is growing and developing.

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