Are You Listening to Respond or Listening to Understand?

You give employees a chance to voice their ideas and opinions. You also ask for feedback and inquire about questions and concerns. But are you actually listening to what they’re saying? Or are you preparing your response?

If it’s the latter, you’re missing out on an opportunity create a deeper, trust-based relationship with your team; one that breeds loyalty and mutual respect. Taking time to listen can also help you identify and deal with performance issues before they escalate into a more serious matter.

So how can you listen to understand rather than just respond? Here are a few ways:

Don’t interrupt.

When an employee comes to you with an issue or concern, don’t interrupt them to interject your thoughts or opinion. This is going to lead to disengagement with the conversation.

Instead, stop and give them your full attention. Listen carefully and patiently, remaining focused on them. By staying in the moment, you can understand not just the content of what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it with their body language. This will give you more insight into the full scope of the problem, so you can help your employee better navigate through it.

Ask questions.

Once an employee has explained their problem or concern, ask questions first before sharing your opinion. Make sure you fully understand the issue at hand and what matters most to them in terms of resolving it. Ask them to expand on their perspective, so you’re engaging yourself more actively in the situation and can better determine the next steps forward.

Don’t criticize.

When an employee comes to you, criticizing them will only cause more problems. Instead, be empathetic. Workplace challenges and stressors can lead to a lot of pressure. It’s important to recognize this and listen to an employee when they’re sharing a frustration. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about a time you went through a similar situation. This will demonstrate understanding and that you can relate to what they’re going through.

Show you care.

In the long run, employees want managers who truly care about them and their well-being. So don’t simply approach your relationship as a short-term one that ends once the business day is over. Instead, strive to develop a deeper rooted relationship, one your people can depend on during their careers and throughout personal hardships. They’ll be more loyal to your team and the company at large.

Being a strong leader is more than just setting goals and expectations and managing performance. You must build relationships with each staff member. A huge part of that involves simply listening. When you do, you can learn about what’s impacting them, find out more about what motivates each individual, and build a more cohesive, productive team in the long run.

Need help hiring for your team?

Turn to Future Force. We’re one of Orlando, FL’s leading temporary hiring and staffing agencies. As such, we’ve been focused on building relationships with clients and candidates since 1992. We’re able to make the best matches between the two, so employers get the talented individuals they need and candidates find meaningful work. It’s the best of both worlds and just a call away.

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