Are you an approachable manager -- or do your employees get quiet and look intimidated whenever you walk by? If it's the latter, you need to make some changes. To run a productive and successful small business, you need to build a positive relationship with your employees. If you give off a "do not disturb" vibe, you'll soon be faced with employee resentment, an unhealthy office culture, and small workplace problems blowing up into full-fledged disasters.
Here are four tips for being an approachable manager:
- Leave your door open. The times when you shut your office door to conduct sensitive business or ensure privacy should be the exception rather than the rule. If you spend most of your time behind closed doors, your staff isn't going to feel a connection with you. Instead, they'll feel alienated and cut off. Even if it means more distractions due to people stopping by to say hello or ask questions, try to keep your office door open whenever possible.
- Talk to your staff. Take an interest in your employees beyond just the work they do. Getting to know your staff builds trusting relationships. You don't have to get deeply involved in workers' personal lives, but you should know about their families, interests and hobbies. A simple "Good morning, 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.
- Prepare your staff for success. Explain all assignments carefully, with clear instructions as to what needs to be done, by whom, and in what time frame. Make sure your staff knows they can come to you with questions or when they need further help to accomplish the goals you set for them. Give employees adequate lead time to complete projects whenever possible.
- Don't punish the messenger. If you're the kind of boss who only wants to hear good news, your employees won't tell you everything you need to know-and that will mean unpleasant surprises down the road. Let your staff know they can come to you with potential problems or suggestions on how to improve operations. Recognize that since they're the ones on the "front lines" of your business, they may have better insights than you do into what is really going on.
These four simple steps will go a long way toward building an atmosphere of trust and openness-and that builds a better business.