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10 ways leaders can be more approachable to their employees

By Fi Darby | 11 October 2019


Australia’s business leaders have a global reputation for their cooperative leadership style. In general, Australian managers value a “working together” approach over top down management. In 2013, a McCrindle study found that Australians are most comfortable with an approachable management style and that they value teamwork over authority. Australian’s most appreciated leadership attributes were shown to be:
  1. Competency
  2. Ambition
  3. Broad Mindedness
  4. Caring
  5. Cooperation
Approachability isn’t just about being friendly. An approachable leadership style ensures that leaders are open to ideas, willing to share resources and available when needed. It also puts a big emphasis on communication. Developing your leadership skills should be a priority for all business leaders. With this in mind, there are 10 ways leaders can be more approachable to their employees.

10 ways leaders can be more approachable to their employees

  1. Remember the early days.
  2. Hone your listening skills.
  3. Be an open book.
  4. Value sharing over competition.
  5. Consider training requests carefully.
  6. Think about your body language.
  7. Learn and use people’s names.
  8. Be very careful about your responses to other people.
  9. Keep an enquiring mind.
  10. Make time for that all important management training.

1. Remember the early days.

Think back to your first days in a new job role. Try to remember what your managers did to make themselves more approachable. Perhaps they made a point of chatting on your first day or involving you immediately in one of their favourite projects. Use these memories to help you formulate an induction plan for new employees. Include this plan in your management training.

Top management tips
  • Prioritise chatting to new employees
  • Act as a mentor when appropriate
  • Make friendliness your goal

2. Hone your listening skills.

By understanding your workforce, you improve your impact as a leader. Listening more carefully to your employees and acting on their suggestions will help you build strong and cooperative teams. A healthy workplace encourages the sharing of ideas. Leaders who understand that great ideas can come from other people generally have a more approachable management style.

Top management tips
  • Hold regular ‘suggestions’ meetings
  • Adopt an ‘every idea counts’ approach
  • Talk to quieter employees as well as more confident ones

3. Be an open book.

woman employee speaking with boss

Gaining the respect of your team is an important step towards successful leadership. One of the key ways to gain respect is to make sure you are as open as possible with your staff. Explaining your thoughts and motivations, at the same time as demonstrating your own vulnerability will help you seem more approachable.

Top management tips
  • Investigate the possibilities of adopting pay transparency
  • Make your business goals public, clear, quantifiable and scheduled
  • Set up ‘ask the boss’ question and answer sessions

4. Value sharing over competition.

Building a ‘no secret’ culture into your organisation can have significant positive impact on management approachability. Not only this but a team that shares and supports each other is more effective than one that sees competition as the main goal. Managers who want to show an approachable management style need to lead the way with this.

Top management tips
  • Set up formal and informal opportunities to share information
  • Encourage cross-department communication
  • Create multi-discipline teams

5. Consider training requests carefully.

Around 20% of Australians between the ages of 15 and 64 are currently studying. Trends towards higher levels of education are on the rise. This demonstrates the high value that the Australian workforce puts on lifelong learning. Modern training methods, such as online learning, allow for the take-up of educational opportunities without disruption to work patterns. An approachable manager will understand these factors and make sure they give requests for training fair consideration.

Top management tips
  • Find out which online courses are available in your industry
  • Foster a positive approach to employee development
  • Learn to think outside the box when it comes to CPD 

6. Think about your body language.

manager speaking to staff members

When it comes to communication, it is your body language that really influences your approachability. Open body language is one of the key skills of great communicators and can make a difference to how your employees feel about talking to you. It is particularly important to make sure your verbal and non-verbal messages agree with each other. For example, if you ask an open question, make sure you aren’t crossing your arms as you speak.

Top management tips
  • Watch for reactions to the body language of other managers
  • Make body language a company focus for a few weeks
  • Get an expert in to share body language tips with the whole organisation

7. Learn and use people’s names.

In a large organisation, it can be very difficult to learn everybody’s name but this is a really important management skill. Managers who know their employees well have more chance of fostering a healthy working culture. It is hard to feel valued at the same time as feeling anonymous. It is also hard to approach a manager if they don’t know who you are.

Top management tips
  • Make a point of using people’s names when you talk to them
  • Attend social gatherings to help you see people in another context
  • Encourage a cross-department approach to project management

8. Be very careful about your responses to other people.

As you climb the organisational ladder, your responses hold more significance. This can be an advantage but it is also a responsibility. People across your organisation will copy the way you respond in different situations so it is important to get this right. By using reassuring and positive responses will encourage your team to be more creative and innovative.

Top management tips

  • Invite discussion of problems rather than insisting on solutions
  • Accept negative comments in the same way you do positive ones
  • Prioritise your colleagues over your to-do list

9. Keep an enquiring mind.

A curious manager keeps on top of trends and successfully leads a company forwards. Not only that but by taking a curious approach, you will find genuine reasons to engage in meaningful conversations with your workforce. By fostering a culture of curiosity you may well find your business ahead of the curve in new and exciting ways.

Top management tips
  • Spend time in each of your departments
  • Set a weekly theme for questions and encourage others to join in
  • Set up ‘getting to know’ you meetings between colleagues

10. Make time for that all important management training.

Approaches to management are changing all the time. With such a busy and responsible role, it can be difficult to find time to look at your leadership style. Online management training is a great way to give yourself this time. Upskilled offers a wide range of management training courses from Certificate IV to Graduate Diploma level, most of which can be completed within 12-months.

Top management tips
  • Talk to Upskilled’s education consultants to find exactly the right management course for you
  • Remember that online training is flexible and will fit into your lifestyle
  • Use your learning to help you achieve an approachable management style

How can I improve my management style?

Upskilled is one of Australia’s most popular Registered Training Organisations (RTO). Our range of flexible online management courses has been designed to suit all levels of management and cover a broad range of topics. Find out more today about how online training can help you be a more approachable and better manager.
 
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