Managers need good people skills, the ability to analyze, and the power to communicate a strategic vision effectively to their teams. In the midst of all this motivation, coaching, and interference-running, however, many managers lose track of a key fourth management skill: listening.
Effective listening improves a manager’s understanding of his or her team members. It develops relationships by demonstrating respect and it gathers information from “front-line” workers that can be used to make better decisions. Active listening builds rapport and increase the information available to managers who must make decisions. A good listener has significantly more power to influence and engage with team members.
How can managers develop better listening skills? Consider these tips:
- Be present in the moment. If your brain starts up its inner “chatter” while you’re trying to listen, calmly and firmly return your attention to the person speaking. You can’t listen to your employees if you’re busy listening to yourself.
- Use non-verbal and verbal cues that demonstrate you are listening. Look at the person as they speak, nod to indicate you understand and are following along, and say “yes” or “I see” at appropriate pauses in the conversation.
- Watch the speaker’s non-verbal cues. Body language communicates. Posture, facial expressions, and use of hand gestures can tell you how the speaker is feeling, even if he or she doesn’t say it. The more you watch individual team members, the better you will become at reading their particular body language, allowing you to intervene or offer help at the right times – even if they aren’t saying anything at all.
- Paraphrase what you just heard. To check you understood and communicate that you are trying to help, put what your employee just said in your own words: “What I’m hearing you say is that Coworker hasn’t stopped asking you personal questions, even though you’ve told Coworker several times that you want to focus on your job. Is that correct?”
- Ask questions. Questions demonstrate you understood the essentials of the message and want to find the best way to resolve a problem: “What do you think we should do?”
- Don’t react right away. In a non-emergency, take time to think about what was said, so you can respond deliberately. Tell your employees this is what you are doing: “I want to think about what you’ve said. I’ll get back to you in [time period].”
At Marquee Staffing, our experienced recruiters can help you find managers that balance speaking and listening to improve their effectiveness in their own work and with their teams. Contact us today to learn more about our staffing services in San Diego, Carlsbad and Orange County.