Of course every leader thinks that they are approachable. Saying things like….
- “No one is afraid to stop in and talk to me”
- “I have an open door policy”
You may have the best of intentions but it just might not be enough. If you are always scheduled in meetings, or are preoccupied and always in a rush…maybe you just spend hours in your office replying to emails, and you’re sending signals that are just the opposite.
Most employees won’t feel comfortable interrupting you. So what can you do?
As a leader, embracing feedback and opinions from your staff can be tough. Even more difficult…your employees have to give that feedback. It can be very intimidating for them.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say. The question is, are you paying attention?
Your employees may have a lot of knowledge about what’s working and what’s not. However, they’re most likely too intimidated to give their opinions freely. To make your employees feel more relaxed about giving feedback, you could try…
- Meeting with them in small groups or in an informal, one-on-one setting.
- Organizing an anonymous employee survey or putting a comment box outside of your office. Employees might feel more inclined to offer feedback, especially if they disagree with or criticize something, knowing it can’t be traced back to them.
Make sure you don’t create an approachability problem. If you act hurried or annoyed, it can indicate you don’t want to be bothered. Same goes if you are staring at the computer screen while they are answering a question, or repeatedly checking your messages.
Want to try something new?
Show your full attention and approachability by answering a question, not just simple and quick but by having an approach with a purpose.
Instead of answering a question, try first to ask questions such as
- “What do you think you should do?”
- “What was your thought process behind this approach?”
- “What would you do next if I weren’t here?”
Trying this approach works in many situations and is a bit like an expedition. It will expose the differences in your thinking compared to your staff’s. It will also lead to opportunities for you to be a strong, effective communicator.
You will be demonstrating approachability and your people won’t feel apprehensive or uncomfortable.
Be every bit as conscientious about reaching out to others as you are about getting the work done, they go together.
So, don’t take your approachability for granted. These simple strategies, will help you create a better, more comfortable relationship with your employees.
Their motivation will increase, and you will find it easier to achieve the results you expect and hope for from them.
Are you approachable with your team?
Dave Baney is the founder and CEO of 55 Questions, LLC. We work with successful top executives with a driving ambition to crush their competition. We help CEOs and Entrepreneurs improve alignment, communication and accountability throughout their organization. www.55Questions.com
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