Developing listening skills
If there is one skill managers need to fine tune, it is their listening skills. While you may think you are a good listener, several of your employees may not feel the same way. Effective listening means you need to make a mental note of the things your employees are telling you and follow up with them after you have listened for awhile. With all the projects you need to work on, it can be easy to get distracted when employees are talking to you. It is natural for us to pick and choose what we will hear. Learning how to develop good listening skills will provide you with stronger relationship and this helps to strengthen your staff. A good manager will have good listening skills and this helps to round out their leadership traits. Here are some simple ways to help you develop your listening skills:
- Make the choice to listen. If you really want to be respected for your ability to listen to your employees, you must make the conscious decision to listen to them. If you make this one of your goals, you will pay attention to it more when your employees come into your office to talk.
- Body language. We all know body language says a lot about the way we communicate with others. If you want to be known as a manager with excellent listening skills, you need to show these skills through your body language. This means you need to stop talking and provide your employees with non-verbal feedback. Nodding your head, smiling, and eye contact will go a long way to let an employee know you are listening to them and that you are actually hearing what they are saying. As you are listening, avoid doing things like checking the time, playing with your cell phone, and fidgeting. These are all indicators that you are not listening to what they are saying and this will destroy any trust and respect you have worked so hard to build.
- Distraction free. A good manager knows the importance of listening to his/her employees. Show your employees respect by shutting off all the distractions that can pull you away from paying attention to them. When they walk into your room, put your cell phone on silent and place it in a drawer, shut off your computer monitor, and turn your office phone off. This shows an employee that you are 100% devoted to them and you are here to listen to what they have to say.
- Connect with your staff. A good listener understands how to connect with their employees. As your employees talk and you listen, make some mental notes or actual notes after the conversation. Write down a few of the things that you discussed so you can talk to the employee about them at a later date. Following up with your conversation is a wonderful way to show them that you actually did listen to what they had to say. Try not to probe your employees and let them do the talking.
- Don't always give advice. When people come into your office to talk, they want to talk; they don't want you to talk. Sit there quietly and only offer advice when they ask for it. Most of the time they just need to vent some of their frustrations and they are looking to you to offer them a pep talk that will motivate them to get back out there and start working hard. Being there for your employees when they need someone to talk to is a simple way to build trust with them and it boosts employee morale.