One key to finding the gift of openness is being careful not to make assumptions about those who work for us. Everyone who reports to you should be given the opportunity to be heard and understood without bias or prejudice. Ask yourself, how well do you really know your employees?
Take a look at the following questions. Do you know the answers for half of your employees? More? Less? Who are they? Where did they come from? What has shaped their life and how they approach work? What's important to them right now? What are they afraid of? What's their hidden dream? If you don't know the answers, then you are not open and you are not earning the right to be followed.
Failing to understand your employees at this level may result in your intentionally overlooking or failing to hear someone on your team. Repeated occurrences will leave your reputation among your team battered, with many of them even thinking you are rude and inconsiderate. Your lack of openness will cost you in higher turnover, decreased productivity, increased frustration, and more.
For a more in-depth look at finding the gift of openness, see Chapter 3 of A Leader's Gift. There you will find a more comprehensive list of questions to consider in getting to know your employee-and much more.