A study was conducted of employees with families. Nearly 100% of managers rated themselves as supportive of these employees and their family situations. When employees were asked - about 50% rated their managers as supportive.
That is what I refer to as the Manager Gap - the difference between what a manager rates himself and what the team rates him. There will always be a gap. It is unrealistic to think that even the greatest manager and team are 100% aligned in their opinions. However, great managers do everything in their power to shrink the gap.
Obviously, the best approach is to get a third-party who can get the information confidentially from employees and share it with the manager. It requires someone with skill who can quickly build trust and then is able to share the information with the manager in a non-threatening and confidential way. I've helped many teams with this.
If this isn't possible, then managers can try to shrink the gap by asking a few questions during one-on-one meetings.
What things do I do that you find support you in meeting your results? Ask them to be specific.
What could I do differently that would offer you more support in meeting your results?
As always, the key is to listen and take the feedback, not argue or defend. Also stress that this is to help you be a better manager, you are not judging the employee.
You won't always get great information from this discussion. After all, employees aren't more open to criticizing you just because you ask. But you will find nuggets that will help you close the Manager Gap.