Chatting about the weather = increased team performance

Blog | June 24, 2021

Small talk perpetually gets a bad rap. Who wants to stand around chatting about the weather?

I was two years into my career when I first experienced the value of polite conversation about nothing in particular .

At the time, part of my role was to manage vendors for a small startup and one vendor, especially, was the bane of my workday. He was inconsistent. He didn’t deliver. He was unresponsive.

Everything a manager tries to avoid—in an employee, client, or vendor.

When I brought my frustrations to the owner of the company, he proposed we all go to lunch.

Lunch? I need this guy to get his act together and do his job!

In my mind, discipline, feedback, action—those were what we needed in that situation. But the owner felt differently. In his mind, we needed to build rapport.

At lunch, the vendor and I discovered some commonalities. We both liked hot yoga, for instance. We chatted about things unrelated to work, built a connection. And most importantly, by the end of lunch, we had established rapport.

And you know what? The results of that one lunch were phenomenal. Not only did my perspective toward the vendor change, but he delivered better, more consistent results for me from that point on.

Here’s the thing: the better your relationship with someone, the better they will deliver. That’s it.

As a leader, time is your greatest commodity. And giving it away, or wasting it on small talk is inconceivable. You have deadlines. Clients to please. Adding rapport to your wheelhouse—is that even an option?

Believe me when I say, it isn’t just an option, it is a necessity. And it definitely is NOT a waste of time. While your role has you focused on the deliverables, it is easy to forget that your people are your “deliverables.” They are the ones responsible for delivering the end product, and you are responsible for them.

Contentions and conflict will always exist in the workplace. But that doesn’t mean it should get in the way of how well your people work with one another and how well they respond to you. If it wasn’t for small talk, my relationship with our vendor may have deteriorated. As it turned out, building rapport boosted our ability to deliver the end product.

Building rapport allows you and your employees to look beyond the things you don’t agree on and choose to invest in the bigger picture. Remember, the better the relationship, the better the deliverable.

This is especially important now, in our era of video calls, work from home, and virtual office space. You no longer run into your people in the hallway, by the coffee maker, at the snack bar. Today, building rapport with your team requires intentionality.

The easiest way to build rapport is by beginning each meeting focused on ten minutes of non-work connection. Ask questions unrelated to the job. And when rapport is established, dive into your feedback or your agenda for the meeting.

The result? Better feedback. More creative solutions. Open, honest conversations. And a deliverable that makes your entire team proud.

Ready to get better results with less work?  Take the first step today by scheduling a complimentary discovery call and invest in becoming the leader you know you can be. Reach out to to set up a complementary introductory call.

Rachel Rider
Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant