Do You Listen to Your Employees?

Harvard Business Review: “Let’s face it: strong leaders tend to be characterized by their strong opinions, decisive action, and take-no-prisoners attitude. These are important traits, but it’s equally important for managers to stand down and listen up. Yet many leaders struggle to do this, in part because they’ve become more accustomed to speaking than listening. So, how can you develop this muscle?”

Here’s what you should do:

  • Take an honest look at both your good and bad habits
  • Clear out all distractions that might draw your attention away from the person in front of you
  • Ask clarifying questions and repeat back what you heard

Here’s what you shouldn’t do:

  • Assume you know all of the answers — allow for the possibility that others have valuable information to share
  • Overlook nonverbal cues — they often reveal what a person is really thinking
  • React emotionally to what is being said — acknowledge the information even if you don’t agree

Ram Charan: “My knowledge of corporate leaders’ 360-degree feedback indicates that one out of four of them has a listening deficit—the effects of which can paralyze cross-unit collaboration, sink careers, and if it’s the CEO with the deficit, derail the company. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Despite today’s fast-paced business environment, time-starved leaders can master the art of disciplined listening. Conventional advice for better listening is to be emotionally intelligent and available. However, truly good listening requires far more than that.”

Geri Stengel: “What is a “good listener?” It’s an attentive one, someone who pays attention not to just what is said but how it said and takes into account nonverbal communication as well. Body language provides cues to what is really being said.”