Asking questions can be intimidating. Especially when the person you want to ask is your boss. We've all been there. We want honest feedback but we're too scared of the truth. We want to know more about our promotion path but we don't want to come off as presumptuous.
The difference now is that you're the boss and the person your employees are scared of questioning is you!
Whatever the reason for their fears, experience shows that if employees don't get the information they need from managers, they look for it in the wrong places.
Controlling the messages is a key part of leadership. Plus, don't you want to be an approachable boss?
Let's take a look at some of the questions your employees are eager to ask (but often don't) and then explore how you can become more approachable so these questions don't remain unanswered.
Question #1: What's the best way to ask for a raise?
Money tends to be an awkward subject for employees – especially those that have never negotiated a salary before.
To ensure that everyone in the company has realistic expectations, it's important to be transparent about metrics and time frames for your entire department. Start by establishing a regular review period during which every employee is given the chance to have this conversation. Before this period, make sure you have a conversation about what targets you expect your team to meet in order to be eligible for a raise.
Setting these standards will make employees more likely to take accountability and deliver.
Question #2: What are my strengths and weaknesses?
Feedback is arguably the most important thing any leader can give their team members. Yet, they're not always sure how to ask for it. This is one of those questions that, when answered, can have an enormously positive impact for both managers and their teams.
For starters, giving your team compliments on their performance while also providing areas to improve is a surefire way to engage your staff members. The subsequent work your employees will put into improving some of their weaker points will undoubtedly benefit your company as a whole – ultimately creating a more well-rounded team.
Pro-Tip: Make sure you have a clear framework for discussing these points. The Whole Brain® Model can help leaders make their goals more clear.
Question #3: What is my future at this company?
Employees put a lot of stock in professional development and career progression. However, like salary discussions, they may sometimes feel uncomfortable to raise the issue. Leaders should be providing a clear action plan for each of their employees.
This often starts by asking them where they'd like to be in the company. From there, you two can work together to build a development plan with clear benchmarks and expectations.
How to become a more approachable leader
In an ideal world your employees would always feel comfortable coming to you with these kinds of questions. After all, one of the core responsibilities of any leader should be giving their people the information they need to thrive.
However, the reality is, not all leaders are approachable. It's important to make an effort to change this so you can run a more effective business with more engaged team members. Here are a few ways to increase your approachability.
Take the first step
It's weird to think that you could be intimidating but if you're a leader or a manager, chances are that some of your team members feel apprehensive about approaching you. Making the first move with them can go a long way for your relationship.
Let them know you're keen to answer their questions, happy to field any concerns and are even interested in their life outside of work. Establishing these touchpoints will make your staff feel more comfortable coming to you when there's something on their mind.
Be open with your failures
Admitting your failures doesn't make you look bad, it makes you more human. Leaders know when to admit their mistakes and should actively encourage the same from their team. Consequently, these are more than just teaching moments, they often work to make you a more approachable manager.
Putting pride aside and realising it's okay to admit your failures will only strengthen communication within your company.
Be the leader everyone needs
Regardless or thinking preferences, learning styles or personalities, everyone wants to be led by someone they feel like they can talk to. Be that boss and we promise, the rest will fall into place.
Keen to learn more about leadership development, employee relationships and how thinking preferences play a key role in all of it? Reach out to the Herrmann team today!