When we want to get the best from our employees, we have to make the effort to get to know them better. It has to be a two-way process to help them feel comfortable with you, so that opening up is an easy step for them.
Getting to know them well, includes giving them an understanding of what you are about too. By sharing just a little of your inner self, you will encourage them to be more open too. There's no need to go too far with this. No need to overwhelm them with the problems you face, until you feel able to and when you know it is appropriate and it will be valuable - on both sides.
These levels of relationships are very intimate and with that comes responsibilities such as confidentiality, understanding and support as the very least.
Being open with you, their boss, can create vulnerabilities and sensitivities that you need to realize is an honor, because people do not let just anyone under their skin. It has to be earned and respected.
When you are open with people, you share your innermost self with them. When your team members feel safe enough to do so, the openness they offer needs to be reciprocated, so that they know that it is the relationship that is valuable, both ways, such that trust and win-win are the expected outcomes.
In the overall concept of workplace relationships' the purpose of encouraging openness is to create and expand that bond between you both, such that each recognizes the value of the other in that pairing. Sharing a little of yourself with your people will be incredibly encouraging for them.
Being 'human' and one-to-one with people - in itself - is a huge step towards openness. The time you take to create the space for the interaction is an indication that you value them as an individual. That you respect their needs as well as see them as a significant contributor.
As this evolves, they will share more deeply their thoughts about their work. They will start to tell you that they have aspirations; that they struggle a little. The value of developing this openness between you is not just that you find out more about your people either.
Where you share your own challenges openly, you may be surprised at the offers of contributions to support you that you can generate. Openness is simply not about one-way traffic, it engenders togetherness through trust, working together to help and develop each other, irrespective of hierarchy.
And openness starts with you, their manager encouraging it through the model you show them, and the way your behaviors bring it on.