As a manager, you have gathered up tons of super-actionable tools for your leadership toolbelt. You have learned how to evaluate with couth, how to motivate, and how to get things done. You’re flexible, encouraging, and a good role model…but you’re always looking for new ways to become a better manager. There’s one management tool you’re overlooking that can help you supercharge your mentorship capabilities, employee satisfaction, and the productivity and progress of your whole team. Even better, this multi-tool is already in your toolbelt: Listening. Below are ways that listening makes managers better.
Productivity will increase.
Listening to employee needs, interpersonal conflicts, triumphs, obstacles, and goals will demonstrate that you care and inspire them to care, too. You’ll learn more about your organization and department from the trenches and better synthesize internal dynamics with production data to oil your machine.
Satisfaction will increase.
Your employees will feel heard and perform with greater loyalty toward you and the company because they are no longer faceless. Employees will feel more satisfied and at-ease in the company knowing that they’re genuinely represented. Also, employees will feel validated in their career trajectory with your company if they feel as though decisions are made with their goals in mind.
How to Be a Better “Listening Leader”
All of these benefits sound great, but how do you enact your listening skills with employees and encourage them to open up?
- Be present. Don’t check your phone or email messages while an employee is speaking with you and try to suspend your thought-reel from going berserk with deadlines and tasks. Feeling heard starts with actually being heard.
- Provide listening cues. Eye contact, verbal signs of understanding, and a genuinely engaged stance go a long way toward inspiring employee communication and will also help open your receptors to what they’ve shared.
- Observe body language. There is a lot of insight to be gleaned from your employee’s posture, facial expressions, and tone that can’t be perceived through words alone. This is why in-person or video communication is essential from time to time. Phrases like “you seem…” or “you appear…” also demonstrate your perceptiveness and make your employee feel understood.
- Recall and Recap. Nothing demonstrates comprehension and concern better than repeating what has just been shared back to the person who shared it. Try this and watch your employees settle into your listening leadership.
- Ask questions. If you really want to understand and retain something, you must interact. Rather than leave an open-door policy and expect your employees to flood in, be proactive! Asking questions before they share and while they’re sharing shows that you’re interested.
- Curb reactivity. Many employees clam up at work for fear that their managers will react in frustration, anger, or disdain. Regardless of what your employee has expressed, take time after the discussion to ingest and prepare an appropriate response. Your employee will feel safer instantly.
The benefits of a “listening leader” are numerous and invaluable. Employees will feel better, teams will function better, and the company will grow and improve. Start listening more actively and you may inspire your teams to do the same. For more interpersonal advice and management tips, follow TRN on social media or revisit our blog!