One of the biggest misconceptions we have about communication is that listening is a passive activity. How many times have we heard someone say, or said ourselves, “I’ll come along to the meeting, but I’ll just listen”? We understand listening is an essential quality of leadership, but most of us don’t know how to listen effectively.
In a marketplace where there is a global war for talent, it’s crucial for organisations to have strong leadership. One of the biggest motivations for team members to resign is because they do not feel heard, appreciated or understood. Here are some of the biggest management blind spots when listening to staff and how to easily fix these issues.
Did you know?
When someone is talking with you face to face about their attitudes or emotions, research shows the most dominant form of communication is non-verbal. Words account for 7%, tone of voice 38% and body language a whopping 55%. While we may consider discussing attitudes or emotions to fall outside of mainstream professional communication, the reality is most one-on-one chats instigated by staff indicate attitude or emotion at the core of what they are saying. Feelings of being overwhelmed are extremely common.
It’s the same, but different
On the surface, nothing much has changed about professional hierarchy structure. Much, however, has changed beneath the surface. Dissatisfied, frustrated employees cite not being heard as a major motivator to look for a new job. Companies need leaders to recognise the importance of caring for their team in order that the business may flourish and succeed. The powerful act of listening transforms workplace culture, creating a harmonious environment, greater respect between team members, increased productivity and employees going above and beyond to deliver results. Focus is undiluted, office atmosphere is calmer, and there are fewer misunderstandings and errors. All because people feel heard.
Listening demands focus
Today’s lifestyle both in and out of the office is distracted, fragmented and dominated by technology. When you give an employee your full attention and time, they feel empowered. Give them the time and space they need to say what they need to say. Be careful not to interrupt or “help” them as they express themselves. Avoid the temptation to fix. Instead, give the person the opportunity and experience of being heard first and foremost. Just this simple act of listening to what someone has to say is effective and empowering. If you cannot contain yourself, don’t interrupt with a statement. Ask if you can offer suggestions.
Another positive way of reinforcing that you have heard what someone has said is asking questions to clarify what they are saying. Again, don’t interrupt, but wait for a pause. When the employee has finished speaking, let them know what you understand from what they have said, then ask if you have understood correctly.
Encourage your team to listen to each other
Listening means waiting before adding any thoughts to what is being said. Take this learning to your team and encourage them to listen to each other. As always lead by example. Creating authentic working relationships built on trust encourages loyalty – we could all do with more of that. Make listening a priority and your team will thank you.
Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. We promise to listen to the issues you face in your business – hopefully we can help. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1