– Dalai Lama
How do you develop your skills and move from being an average manager to a great leader? One simple area to consider working on as it will deliver incredible results is active listening — a skill that can facilitate a leader’s ability to connect with employees.
LISTENING IS AN INVESTMENT
Many employees complain that they felt that their bosses didn’t have — or take — the time to talk with them. In fact, many employees consider “communication issues” as a pain point with their bosses. Not making time to meet is considered by employees to be an issue that that negatively impacts on the ability to deliver effective leadership.
Being a leader is challenging. Your attention is pulled in many directions, and even a well-planned day doesn’t always work out the way it should. While it may seem like you don’t have room in the diary, making the time to listen to your team members has the potential to increase your leadership capacity exponentially as you gain insights, consider new ideas and receive valuable feedback.
DID YOU REALLY LISTEN?
Another complaint from employees is that managers and leaders really don’t listen. In other words, they’re not feeling heard. What is the difference between listening and active listening?
Actively listening to a person involves projecting verbal and non-verbal cues that let the other person know you are available, ready to pay attention and interested in what they are saying.
These cues include:
- Minimising distractions – consider moving away from your office and the ever present email inbox or your desk phone.
- Turning off your mobile phone is also a great idea.
- Make eye contact.
- Reflecting the other person’s feelings with appropriate statements — e.g., “That must have been difficult” or “That sounds stressful”. But remember to be sincere.
- Using additional subtle verbal output such as “right” or “mmm hmmm” and non-verbal cues like nodding your head. These signals let your employee know you are listening and encourages them to continue talking. Again, be genuine. Employees will always know when you are simply giving lip service and it will do more harm than good.
As a strategy to improve leadership skills, active listening can encourage stronger communication between you and your team members. The objective of active listening is to fully understand the message, including any feelings beyond the spoken word that may be conveyed nonverbally. Knowing that their leader cares about and appreciates them makes each team member feel valued as an individual and is an important factor in driving employee engagement. And employee engagement is a vital ingredient in any business success!
At HR Staff n’ Stuff we are here to help with the development of your leadership skills or those of your management team. Feel free to call or email us if you would like to discuss workshops or training that we can tailor to the needs of your business.