Great communication skills are one of the most significant qualities of an effective manager. It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street involving dialogue, not monologue. One mistake managers commonly make is doing all of the talking instead of listening. Perhaps this is due to the notion that leaders are known for being assertive with strong opinions. However, it’s necessary for managers to learn to be good listeners in order to manage effectively.
Why is Listening So Important?
The workplace is not a static environment. It’s constantly growing and changing, and your employees grow and change along with it. Knowing how to listen verbally as well as reading body language is essential to staying connected with employees.
Listening to employees also helps keep them engaged with their job while fostering healthy morale. Spending your days barking orders without accepting feedback will surely breed resentment among your staff over time. Eventually, they’re going to feel as if they don’t have a voice.
Finally, you’re likely to miss out on a lot of great ideas if you don’t know how to listen. Everyone has their own unique perspective and creative take on things. If you don’t listen to your employees’ ideas, it can stunt the growth of your company.
Effective leadership is about finding a happy medium between speaking and listening. Executive coach Amy Jen Su said on the Harvard Business Review, “As a leader, you need to have a strong voice and you need to know when it’s time to listen.”
How to Be a Better Listener
The first step to becoming a more effective listener is recognizing that you need to listen more. When conversing with employees or colleagues, make a point to listen fully to their ideas rather than spouting off your opinion. It may take awhile, but once you adopt this mindset it will become habit.
One technique that fosters better listening is to ask more questions. This creates a channel for dialogue and should encourage others to offer input. More specifically, ask open-ended questions to require more than a yes or no answer.
Be sure to never interrupt others during conversation. Not only is it rude, it will disrupt their train of thought and can lead to disengagement. Strive to become a patient listener, waiting until the other person has finished before you respond.
Finally, try not to judge. Although you may not agree with everything an employee or colleague has to say, you should hear them out and avoid harsh criticism. Instead, embrace your differences in thought and use opposing viewpoints to gain a deeper perspective.
Being a good listener is a sign of emotional maturity and sound communication skills, which are key for being an effective manager. An effort to develop your listening skills can build stronger relationships with your staff, boost engagement and create a more positive working atmosphere.