When others feel that you are open to hearing what they have to say, the will keep you informed about the things you need to know.
As a leader, much of your success rests on the shoulders of your subordinates. Maintaining a positive and productive relationship with your employees is as important as the work they do. According to the findings of a 2018 survey conducted by human capital management provider Ultimate Software, 75 percent of the employees consider approachability to be the most important quality of an effective manager while only half asserted that they have an approachable manager. For the purpose of this blog, let’s define the characteristics of an approachable manager. A leader who is considered approachable is a leader who makes him or herself available for their employees and while keeping their communication channels open.
Giving a “do not disturb” vibe to your employees will create a sense of resentment. Making your team feel like you are unavailable can leave you in the dark regarding many other underlying problems. It is less likely that employees will approach you fearing you might be too busy. Avoid standing by the side of someone’s desk and waiting for them to start or strike a conversation. Employees in non-managerial positions will feel shy or reluctant to open a discussion or greet managers due to their sensitivity to the power distance. Having a senior role in business might make people in less powerful positions think you are scary. While it may not be true, your employees perceive you as someone who holds a high position and sometimes telling people to speak up is not enough. Instead of saying “my door is always open”, you must recognise your own power and open communication channels.
Just saying “good morning” can build rapport in small increments every day. A simple “how was your weekend?” can work wonders in making an employee feel that you care about them. As smart managers know, employees who feel liked and respected are more likely to be productive and enthusiastic workers. Don’t be afraid to ask non-business related questions that can help build a common ground between you and your team members. Keep things personal but professional while keeping an eye on your non-verbals. You are constantly sending signals unwittingly and these signals will eventually become the culture surrounding you.
As a leader, you should avoid listening to reply with a strong comeback and instead listen to understand. Engage in active listening and pay great attention to what someone is saying and understand the complete message. This will make your team feel valued and will build trust among the members. Another approach is Empathic Listening where you can win your team members’ trust and get to the root fo any issues. Think of yourself as a mirror by saying “I understand” and by asking for more explanation. Avoid listing people as important or less important as this might shut people out and will make them question if they should approach you.
You should master approachability to provide your employees with help when needed. Most employees will avoid asking their managers for assistance due to the fear that they are coming across as incompetent or inefficient. Having frequent chats with your subordinates will help maintain a friendly, honest and open relationship and will also allow them to ask for your support whenever needed. Ensure that your door is always open and frequently remind them that they are welcome to ask for help whenever it is required. This will also ensure that the workflow remains undisturbed and that you are aware if and when any resources are lacking or unavailable. Send “speak up” signals instead of “shut up” signals. Your team is aware of how interested or uninterested you are in listening to them and providing help.
These four steps will go a long way toward building an atmosphere of trust, openness and stronger relations. As a leader, you should never underestimate the importance of approachability. Connecting and relating to people will increase their loyalty to you as a leader and to your business. When others feel that you are open to hearing what they have to say, the will keep you informed about the things you need to know.
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