3 Ways Managers Can Improve Their Listening Skills

June 15, 2017

You come to work every day, focus on accomplishing goals and interact with your staff, but do you ever stop and think if you ever really hear your employees?

Managers are so busy staying on top of their own tasks and department objectives that their top priority may not include listening to the people who work for them.

This is a big problem because if employees are used to being disregarded, ignored and not heard, that leads to a poor corporate culture, high turnover and overall inefficiency.

Improve your listening skills with these tips:

Embrace Differences

In the ever present rush of getting work completed by deadline, managers often get frustrated by employees that do not fit the mould.

Whether a staffer is slower than others, asks more questions, is more argumentative or makes too many suggestions, each of those may have an upside if a leader stops to listen to the person’s reasons for their different styles.

An individual who is slower than others may be a great proofreader who will catch mistakes others who rush through their work may miss.

A person who asks a lot of questions or makes suggestions will not simply slow you down but may actually provide you with a different and more efficient way to get things done.

A worker who is seen as argumentative may be an assertive leader-in-training who is not afraid to voice their opinion.

A true leader will take the time to get to know and listen to their team members in order to best utilise their unique qualities.

Follow Up

While you may have the best intentions of devoting time to listening to your team, how do you make them feel like you are truly invested?

One of the best ways is to follow up on conversations you have had with them.

If an administrative assistant has asked for a day off to take her daughter to the doctor, make a note to ask her the following day whether her child is doing OK.

When employees come back from a holiday, inquire about how they spent their time and ask them to see photos.

Any effort you put into listening to your workers’ personal lives will show them that you see them as individuals and truly care about them and their families.

Focus On Nonverbals

When listening to your subordinates, don’t just focus on what they say, but what their body language may imply.

While they may be too shy, intimidated or scared to say something out loud to their boss, their nonverbal cues may explain what they really think or want to say.

According to a source, “60% of all human communication is nonverbal body language; 30% is your tone, so that means 90% of what you’re saying ain’t coming out of your mouth.”

Watch your staff’s eye contact, posture, gestures and facial expressions to notice whether they may be stressed, overtired, sad, excited or simply disinterested.

These cues can speak volumes more than verbal expressions, helping you to connect with your team better than ever!

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