There is frequently a large gap between how leaders think they are perceived and what's really going on. I enjoy talking with employees about how their bosses function because that's where the juicy stuff is. Employees have valuable insights on the strengths and areas for improvement of their supervisors and it can be very helpful to listen to their advice.
The opportunity that many leaders miss out on is using their employees' ideas to improve their leadership abilities or how their workplaces function. This often happens because leaders simply don't have open, two-way communication with their employees. When they open up the lines of communication they have access to the rich information and knowledge their employees possess. This, in turn, helps leaders understand where they stand with their employees and what adjustments might be beneficial. Ask yourself the following questions to asses the quality of your communication with your employees.
1. What percentage of time do you listen to your employees with no interruptions?
2. What is the last great idea you got by listening to an employee?
3. How is conflict dealt with in your organization? What part does effective communication play?
4. What would your employees say about the morale and motivation in your organization?
5. What advice would your employees give you about how to improve your organization?
6. In what ways do your employees demonstrate they are comfortable talking with you?
7. What do your employees say about you?
If you know the answers to these questions then you're likely practicing effective communication with your employees. Chances are that you also know what they are saying about you. If you don't have answers to these questions you can always make some adjustments to make sure you are connected to your employees. What will you do to communicate more openly with your employees?