The demands of leadership are diverse and can make it challenging to determine what and who gets your time and attention.  However, access to the leader is critical to a team’s success, even when you are leading people who are highly skilled, self-directed, and able to make things happen.

I’m reminded of a conversation with a new client during which I suggested she conduct regular one-on-one meetings with her direct reports.  Her response was priceless, “Woman, have you lost your mind?!  I don’t have that kind of time!” We talked through some of the challenges she was experiencing and considered what the outcomes could have been had she created more opportunity to ask questions and gain clarity. We agreed that a “baby step” in the right direction was to try it once and evaluate the results.  The feedback she received from the first group of meetings was overwhelmingly positive.  The leader is now meeting monthly with her direct reports.  In addition to providing more access for the team, the leader now has access to information that she did not have before.

Increasing the extent to which you are accessible to your people 1) Provides an opportunity to assess your talent, making it easier to delegate tasks appropriately, 2) Increases the communication of difficulties and challenging situations,  allowing you to have more of a pulse on your department, 3) Creates an opportunity for people to share thoughts and concerns not easily communicated in team meetings, and 4) Strengthens relationships with each member of your team.

What steps can you take to increase your team’s access?  Start small.  Reserve 30 minutes once a month for a touch base meeting with each direct report.  Let them know that this is their time to discuss anything they want with you.  Afterwards ask for feedback regarding the benefits.  Once the first round of meetings is complete, review the feedback and determine what makes sense moving forward.