Being approachable at work is like a magnetic force that draws teams closer, fostering an environment where trust blooms, ideas freely flow, and collaboration becomes second nature. It builds a safe working environment where no one hesitates to share their problems, ideas, or opinions because they know you are there.
According to a Gallup study, teams with high levels of trust experience 50% higher productivity and 74% less stress.
While you cannot allot time to every employee being a CEO, it depends on you that how approachable you appear to everyone at work.
Take, for example, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, who is renowned for his approachable leadership style. Nadella maintains an open-door policy, both literally and figuratively. He utilizes various communication channels to keep the lines of communication open with employees. Rather than imposing decisions from the top down, Nadella fosters an inclusive decision-making process. He is known for being authentic and transparent in his communication. By sharing personal experiences and challenges, he humanizes the leadership experience, making it easier for employees to relate to him and the company’s mission.
Are you approachable at work?
It’s not just leaders being approachable; we, as individual team members, can also become more approachable to our team members. Take our quiz to find out just how approachable you are at work and discover strategies you need in the article’s subsequent sections.
|I encourage and embrace team members who approach me with unique ideas that deviate from the usual approach
|When handling recent disagreements within the team, I am open to discussion and resolution
|I initiate conversations with colleagues to build rapport and connections
|In the face of unexpected challenges, I am likely to stay calm and adaptable
|When receiving constructive feedback, I am open-minded and appreciative
|I recognize and appreciate the contributions of my team members regularly
|I maintain an open-door policy, allowing team members to discuss concerns or ideas
|When initiating a collaborative project, I always involve team members in the decision-making process
|During conversations with team members, I consistently maintain eye contact to convey attentiveness and engagement
|I actively foster a culture of feedback. I do share my comments on new ideas and thoughts
|I consistently express empathy towards my team members’ challenges and experiences
|I am very flexible in adapting decisions based on new information or changing circumstances
|When conflicts arise within the team, I proactively work toward resolution
|I actively seek and create opportunities for professional growth and development for my team members
|I actively seek to understand the perspectives and experiences of team members with diverse backgrounds
Note: This assessment is for personal growth and learning and should be interpreted as such. Do not copy or commercially reuse this assessment.
Let’s analyze the assessment results further to identify areas for improvement.
Questions 1-5 assess your communication skills. If the majority answers disagree, it implies that you need to enhance your communication skills for a better impact.
Questions 6-10 assess your connection-making skills. If the majority answers disagree, it implies that you need to focus on recognizing contributions and strengthening connections.
Questions 11-15 assess your leadership skills. If the majority of answers disagree, it implies that you need to enhance your leadership presence and growth initiatives.
Now that you know your score, let’s explore some strategies to overcome the challenges that might restrict you.
Skills to overcome the challenges
A few reasons why leaders prefer to keep distance from the team are to maintain their authority, set professional boundaries, and lack of time. But doing so only results in a lack of connection, higher employee stress, higher turnover rates, and overall negative company culture.
- Overcoming Hierarchical Barriers: Hierarchies can create a perceived distance between leadership and team members, challenging approachability. Encourage open communication channels and regular team interactions, and foster a culture where hierarchy doesn’t hinder open dialogue.
- Balancing Authority and Friendliness: You may struggle to balance maintaining authority and being friendly, fearing a loss of respect. Establish clear expectations, communicate openly about decision-making processes, and showcase how authority and approachability coexist.
- Adapting to Diverse Communication Styles: Team members may have diverse communication preferences, leading to misunderstandings or feeling excluded. Utilize various communication channels, conduct surveys to understand preferences, and adapt communication styles to accommodate different team members.
- Cultivating a Feedback-Friendly Culture: Fear, lack of trust, or a perceived negative impact on careers can hinder the creation of an environment where feedback flows freely. Promote a culture that views feedback as a tool for growth, ensures constructive feedback is delivered positively, and recognizes the value of the continuous improvement.
5 tips to be an accessible team member
Being approachable as a team member means creating an open and inclusive atmosphere where colleagues feel comfortable engaging with you. You can be approachable for questions, ideas, and discussions and sometimes to fill in for your team.
- Open Body Language: Maintain open and welcoming body language, including making eye contact, smiling, and avoiding defensive postures. This signals approachability to your teammates.
- Express Empathy: Show empathy by understanding and acknowledging your teammates’ feelings and perspectives. This creates a more compassionate and connected team environment.
- Demonstrate Authenticity and Relatability: Tell your story, sprinkle in some personal experiences, and watch authenticity unfold. Add a dash of video conferencing for a more personal touch.
- Initiate Conversations: Break the ice with casual chats on shared interests. Virtual coffee breaks using tools like Icebreaker can be your ticket to forging connections.
- Avoid Cliques: Resist forming exclusive groups within the team. Strive to include everyone and promote a sense of unity.
5 tips to be a welcoming leader
Being approachable as a leader is paramount for building trust and fostering a healthy working environment. Approachable leaders maintain open lines of communication, actively seek input from team members, and are accessible for guidance and support.
- Active Listening and Empathy: Tune in to active listening, a skill that involves paraphrasing and expressing empathy. Krisp is your virtual ally in clearing communication clutter.
- Create an Open-Door Policy: Make your open-door policy crystal clear and leverage scheduling tools like Calendly to manage impromptu discussions seamlessly.
- Balancing Authority with Approachability: Dive into decision-making with a collaborative spirit. Platforms like Miro or Trello can transform virtual sessions into brainstorming extravaganzas.
- Inclusive Leadership Practices: Spice up meetings with round-robin discussions and anonymous surveys. SurveyMonkey or Mentimeter can be your silent partners in gathering diverse perspectives.
- Encouraging a Feedback-Friendly Culture: Start feedback sessions on a positive note and weave regular feedback rituals into your routine. Tools like 15Five or Lattice can be your virtual applause arenas.
As we conclude our exploration of approachability, remember: it’s not just a tool in your toolkit; it’s the masterpiece that transforms teams and workplaces. Approachability is a cornerstone of effective leadership, and by incorporating these practices, you can create a workplace culture that encourages collaboration, innovation, and a positive team dynamic.