1. Become more approachable in informal interactions by spending more time “wandering” in the office and treating employees like customers, asking questions, expressing ideas, sharing feelings, philosophies, values, etc., including discussions on personal hobbies or interests, so employees perceive you as more concerned and approachable.
2. Look for a teachable or coachable moment, e.g., a brief learning opportunity that might arise from an observation or a meeting that the two of you may be attending. Take a few minutes to simply debrief about the event and then move on.
3. When one of your direct reports asks for help, resist the desire to provide solutions. Instead, first listen carefully so that you have a better understanding of the situation and the issues. Second, ask non-threatening and non-challenging questions that help the employee think through the issues and find a better solution.