Businessman Working in Office --- Image by © Tim Garcha/zefa/Corbis

As an employee retention trainer and employee retention speaker, I mention that many leaders have their door open but are not approachable because of their leadership style.  Needless to say, this does them and the organization no good when it comes to learning about employee retention issues and proactively solving them to reduce employee turnover.  Being approachable should be one of the key parts of employee retention strategies.

Being approachable is difficult to describe.  In most cases being unapproachable exists because of a lack of trust between the leader and the employee that has built up over time.  When the employee comes to the leader does anything positive happen…if not…trust is lost.  Sometimes leaders have their door open but when you stop in you feel as if you are imposing on them.  They don’t send a signal that they are glad to see the employee.  They rarely look up from their work, grunt and acknowledge that you are there and then growl, “What do you need?”

When the employee comes to the office, the leader needs to set aside their work, devote their full attention to the person who has come to see him.  That person is all that matters.  The leader needs to listen to what the person has to say.  They have to be present in the moment.  People can tell when you are playing a charade and are not really there and listening.   This means the mobile device, the phone, work, etc. need to be put “on hold.”  You must give UNDIVIDED attention.

Assuming you do this all correct, then the key is to ACT on what you hear.  Listening is not simply enough.  If you disagree say so.  If not, get behind the idea and support it.  This sends the message that being approachable works.  Trust is built.  This trust can then be relied on as a tool to help retain your best people.  After all, most people will not stay working for someone long if they don’t trust them.