Before we begin with the question on improving your approachability, you need to ask yourself why you want to be approachable in the first place.
Is it because you can’t understand why, despite an ‘open-door’ policy, people still don’t come to you with important concerns?
Or is it because, as a leader, being approachable is simply not your personal style or preference to begin with? If so, why have you come to believe that there are more advantages to being approachable than otherwise?
First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you on wanting to invest in building relationships by becoming more approachable in a workplace setting.
The simple fact is that if people like you, it’s easier to work with them.
If people think positively of you and if you give them the time and space to reach out to you, you will begin to hear all kinds of feedback — whether positive or negative — from them, which will help you gauge how you and your company are faring at the moment, and what needs to be improved.
Here are a few simple ways to help employees open up to you:
- You have to care for them.
I’m not talking about pretending to care, but being genuinely interested in your staff. And when you are interested in people, the main thing that shows up is that you remember details which are important to them. You remember what they feel is important to them, which they wear like an expression. They speak to the world about what’s important to them and they share with the world what’s important to them.
- Pay attention to these details.
It shows that you care enough to put your attention, energy and memory space for things about them. Which means very basic things like their name, whether they’re married, what work they do, their new haircut, or even the story of that cactus plant that’s sitting in their cubicle. If they put up a picture on their cubicle, it means they want to be reminded that this is something important for them — most people create their surroundings to be comfortable for them, which means these things give them comfort. So if you see somebody with a picture of their family on their desk, ask them about it to build a personal connection.
- Make the effort yourself first before expecting them to do the same.
Simply smiling, saying hello or inviting them to eat lunch together to get to know them creates a less formal and more open environment for them to share more about themselves than scheduling one-to-one meetings in your office to get an update on their progress and concerns.
Learn more about how to improve your communication skills as a leader with Executive Coach International’s Professional Coach Training Program™ today!