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About me:

I am an introverted team lead. My superiors and my team members do recognize that I am an effective leader. Also, I do not really get strict or angry usually when things go wrong , instead I focus on helping team members understand why their action was not a good decision and how to handle such cases in the future. Even though I am really introverted, I am really humble, I do not boss my team round, we work as a team.

I always make plans for what roles a team member has right now and what new roles this team member can grow in to , that would benefit both the individual member and the team. I discuss these things pretty openly with the team, everyone knows what they are doing and where they are going. Also, their input and personal interest is always considered.

Aside from being introverted I have social phobia as well, so in my office I just talk to people about work. If something good happens to someone, I congratulate them, if something bad happens I always try to be understandable of their situation ( and even cut them some slack regarding work responsibility). Aside from that I do not really socialize with any one.

Also, I am a female and my current team is all male. I am from South Asia, in my culture not everyone feels at ease socializing with opposite gender, many chose to keep a respectful distance. Which is also a factor of why I do not socialize much with my team......But I am realizing that I really need to do that in order to win their full trust.

The Problem:

I have been leading this team for many years, and during this time, total 3 people have left the company and 1 person just resigned today, whom we are gonna may be try to retain...may be....

1 of those 3 was a female member and she opened up to me about her personal issues and I advised her to resign for now and comeback whenever she figures stuff out.

The problem is, (aside from that 1 female member ) I never saw it coming myself.... Instead my managers gave me a hint that this person is looking for this kind of opportunity, so they might leave sooner or later.

What surprises me is that, they open up to the boss over me, but not to me....

What do I need to do to make them feel comfortable in talking to me about such things, to trust me with their plans....My company and team has open door policy, why don't they come to me..? They are comfortable with the boss of their boss but not the direct boss herself.....I do not get it.

Please help me understand this and advice me how to be more involved in team members's future plans.

The reason I want to know this, is to better plan the activities. If someone is a potential exit then I need to start preparing their replica, I need to rotate their tasks. So if they stay then, well and good, if not then I already have someone to take on the important stuff. By the way, finding people who have experience in my field is really hard, mostly we have to just get a fresh graduate and train him/her. But if I know before hand then we can switch tasks of existing experienced members, which would make things easy for the team.

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    Definitions vary from company to company, but based on the definitions I'm more familiar with, they should be going to the manager about their employment. It would usually be fine to speak with a lead, but that's ultimately more part of the manager's role. – John Spiegel Oct 16 at 17:13
  • That's an interesting point....But the managers are gonna notify me anyways so how can I make them feel comfortable to keep me in the loop from the start – blackfyre Oct 16 at 17:19
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    It may be irrelevant, but here's an observation for you to think about: you framed the question in terms of being an 'introvert' and made about 4-5 (I didn't count so it's my impression) references to that. But you also added that " I am a female and my current team is all male" (and that in your culture some people are uncomfortable socialising with the opposite gender). Then you said that a female team member did talk to you but you were taken by surprise by people leaving "aside from that 1 female member". I think that this may be a case of framing it around gender not introversion. – seventyeightist Oct 16 at 19:54
  • Btw, as an extrovert myself (in a different culture from yours admittedly -- I'm in the UK) I've had a lot of introvert bosses and never felt I couldn't talk to them about where my place in the company might be heading or anything like that just because they were 'more introverted' and 'only talked about work' or similar. Are you expecting to get information from people by 'socializing' rather than in manager-report discussions (like 1-2-1s or catch ups), maybe that's the culturally specific part. – seventyeightist Oct 16 at 19:57
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    @seventyeightist, In my experience in one to one meetings, you do not really get much info...and a superior of mine also said that you can not expect to know such things( or get hints) in formal meeting, he said its the sort of stuff that get to know from water cooler chit chat, which is why I thought that socializing is needed. – blackfyre Oct 17 at 0:01
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It's hard to unravel the social aspects of your question, but I think that's as much because of how you are personally mixing the social and professional aspects as it is a sign that the two are actually interwoven.

In other words, don't get hung up on social skills as a way to create trust. In fact, trust created purely by way of social prowess is probably the most fragile type of trust, because there's no substance to it. Instead, focus on the fact that trust is usually based on having a transparent understanding of another party's motivations and actions, and being able to see that the other party is willing and capable of being honest.

Entire books can be written about what to do in order to create trust, but that's what it really boils down to: be transparent, be honest, be a good listener, and be consistent in doing what you say you will do.

Also, it's worth noting that the issue you're seeing might not actually be attributable to trust. Your direct reports may have other reasons (besides lack of trust) for talking to your manager, instead of you. They may perceive that the boss's boss is the one who actually has power to change things. Or they may have a prior relationship with that person, or other motivations. Don't take it as a bad sign, instead consider it healthy that your employees are comfortable talking to whom they think they need to talk to (instead of feeling pressured into always going only to you).

Finally, it's hard to judge the scale of your problem - three people leaving in "several years" might actually be a very low turnover rate in some teams. People change jobs often, for lots of reasons, and those events (and the signs that lead up to them) may have nothing to do with whether or not your employees trust you.

  • I see, that makes sense! – blackfyre Oct 16 at 17:39
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    +1 for "they may perceive that the boss's boss is the one who actually has the power to change things". Credibility is based in delivering according to plan. If you make plans with them but they don't see you delivering what was planned, they'll talk to the person who they see is able to do it – Juliana Karasawa Souza Oct 17 at 13:59

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