Culture Insights from a Certified Great Place to Work

on November 16, 2018

In your culture, are managers approachable and easy to talk to?

This question from the Great Place to Work (GPTW) institute highlights the importance of leadership approachability in workplace culture. Most organization leaders think that they and their upper-level management executives are accessible. After all, most leaders are happy to support an “open-door policy.” However, I can tell you that it’s not enough to have an open-door policy ‒ in fact, your organization would be better off without any doors at all!

Since most workplaces, including ours, do have doors, what can you do to ensure your managers are approachable? Our CEO regularly walks the halls. He makes that behavior a typical part of our office culture. He stops and talks to people, and he demonstrates curiosity about them, their work, and their lives.

But simply being approachable is table stakes these days. If you really want your people to know they can talk to you, you need to approach them! Your culture is more than important today ‒ it is the reason people show up and give you their best work (or their mediocre work). This is not the time to play hard to get. Leaders and managers, you have to make the first move.

Luckily, technology makes it possible to do that, even when you can’t physically be with employees. You can easily check in with instant-messaging apps, a simple text message, or even that old standby: an email. But don’t only ask about a project or how a client relationship is progressing. Instead, show some curiosity about your people. Ask them good questions, demonstrate care and enthusiasm for what they have to say (about work and beyond), and listen. Really listen. Your employees will appreciate this and return the favor.

Encouraging executives to make approachability part of their everyday routine isn’t always easy, but you want this behavior to be present and noticeable in your culture. You want it to be the norm, not the exception.

Robin Wooddall-Klein oversaw Root’s application to become a Great Place to Work®-CertifiedTM company. She’s happy to discuss what Root is doing right and what they plan to do next to become an even greater place to work. If you’d like to discuss what your organization can do to improve, you can reach her at rklein@RootInc.com.

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