A key aspect of managing people is to be a good listener.
Employees often argue that they want to be heard but what they really want is for their leaders to actively listen to them and not just hear what they are saying.
Managers who listen to their employees succeed in creating trustworthy relationships and generate loyalty.
Listening assiduously not only allows a manager to understand his employees, but it also show that he respects them. A manager who listens to his staff will find it a lot easier to influence them. Being a good listener does not mean you have to become enslaved by chatterboxes. It simply means developing a functional strategy for making yourself approachable and then offering your staff your full attention when engaging with them.
Good listening skills are, thankfully, a management trait that can be developed should the effort be made.
Here are 5 tips to improve your listening skills as a manager:
1. Be present
First and foremost, you have to be present in the moment. This entails focusing solely on what the other person is saying to you and shutting down all internal interference. Don’t just listen. Show that you are listening by making use of appropriate body language like nodding and keeping eye contact.
2. Do not interrupt
As tempted as you may be, do not interrupt the person speaking to you. Even if what they are saying is completely unfounded hear them out instead of interrupting. Interruption is a sign of disinterest and could hamper future communication with the other individual.
3. Don’t get defensive
It is a tell-tale sign that you are not listening if you spend a lot of time explaining, elaborating on and defending your decision or position. Don’t allow your role as listener to change into one of convincing others that you are right and they are wrong. Active listeners are able to calmly listen to another individual even when undue criticism is being offered.
4. Be empathetic
The modern workplace is filled with pressure and stress. Individuals all handle stress differently and it is for this reason that you have to be empathetic as to how these factors influence employee performance. Displaying empathy is a very powerful way to show that you are listening. Many managers are hesitant to show affection and avoid emotional interactions at all costs. The best leaders however, know how to empathize and make themselves approachable to those that need it.
5. Validate and verify
Managers who are efficient listeners that validate and ask verifying questions. It is important not to make assumptions. You don’t necessarily have to agree with what is being said. What you can do is acknowledge and express thanks for the information, regardless of whether you agree with it or not. Always close the talk with a summary of the points heard and the next steps to be taken.
On a Final Note
When you actively listen to your staff they will reward you with hard work, dedication and loyalty.
In a Nutshell
Effective managers and leaders are excellent listeners. To become a better listener:
- Be present by concentrating on what your employees are telling you
- Do not interrupt them – listen to their words and their message
- Don’t get defensive. Listen for understanding and to what is not being said.
- Be empathetic – for this increases understanding and maintains rapport
- Validate and verify what your employee has told you by repeating back what they have said