Give them options.

It is tempting to reply to a message you don’t like by putting someone in their place. This is a particularly bad move for a supervisor. Telling your direct reports that they are not allowed to come to you with concerns is an easy way to lose potential star players. People who care enough and feel comfortable enough to approach you are telling you something valuable: that you’re a good boss! Not the boss? Still ok. It means they trust you. It does not mean you should let them be out of pocket with you. But, instead of eliminating the trust they have in you by creating distance and making them feel put in their place, try placing a put. A put option is a term used in finance and trading. Put options allow a buyer to sell a stock back to someone at any time for any reason (usually). The metaphor for this is that what you need to do is ask the person for their trust in your direction and tell them that if after a certain time they feel it isn’t working for them, they can exercise the option to divest. The key here really is to ask the person to give things some time. And then give them choices.

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