Most of us like to think we’re open to ideas/suggestions/criticisms, but that’s not always as clear to your staff as you might think. When is the last time one of your staff came to you with a suggestion for improvement? When is the last time someone came to you with a concern?
If you can’t remember, you might want to rethink how approachable you are. Additionally, are you providing a time and place for your staff to provide feedback?
Ask a co-worker for honest feedback on whether they can come to you with issues/concerns. Also ask if they’re aware of any signs your staff might not feel open to conversations with you. If the co-worker has any hesitation, odds are it’s worse for your staff. If your co-worker can come to you, but hesitates when asked about your staff, consider that an invitation for change.
If you work in an office with others, is your door shut more than it’s open? When someone approaches you, do you look them in the eyes or do you try to avoid contact with them so they’ll leave? Do you give off the impression that you are way too busy to talk? Do you ever conduct brainstorming meetings or leave time in meetings for open discussion? If your team is remote, do you ever just talk with them?
It’s so easy to fill our day with details that we can sometimes miss the big picture. Time flies by and we must make an appointment with ourselves to stop and consider options/opportunities. Encourage your staff to shine by supporting the free flow of ideas. If they aren’t coming to you, go to them and ask for their help/ideas/concerns. When you do that, make sure you take the time to listen to and act on what they’re saying.
Fostering an environment of feedback and the flow of ideas will help your department/company move forward and grow. In addition, it can encourage staff to come to you with concerns before they grow into bigger problems.