Eric Jacobson

Are You Listening To Your Employees?

In General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Skills, Listening Skills, Motivating Employees on March 24, 2010 at 7:37 pm

If your employees were asked if you are a leader who listens, would their answer paint a picture like this one?

Listening, truly listening, is one of the most essential skills to have to be an effective leader.

To test your listening skills, try this exercise for your next five to six one-on-one conversations:

  • After each discussion write down who spoke the most.  Jot down the highlights of the discussion, and what you learned from the discussion that you did not know prior to the conversation.  Then, ask the person with whom you had the discussion to review your notes and ask him/her to confirm what you wrote.  If there’s disagreement between what they said they said and what you wrote down, that will tell you that you need to improve your listening skills. 

It will take a little extra effort to do this exercise, but it can be both revealing and helpful.  You might try this first with peer-level co-workers.

Another way to improve your listening skills is to ask questions during a conversation.  Don’t ask more than one question at a time.  And, ask your questions at appropriate times.  Ask your questions to clarify what you are hearing and to demonstrate you are listening to the person speaking.

Also, don’t forget to summarize your conversations with your employees.  Use your own words to summarize what you understood.  Your summarizing what you heard will help prevent misunderstandings.  It also demonstrates to your employee that you are really listening.

Take notes.  Jotting down the most pertinent parts of a discussion will help you to remember the details and will demonstrate to the person who’s speaking to you that you are engaged.

Other listening tips include:

  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Don’t finish the other person’s sentences.
  • Don’t prejudge.
  • Watch for non-verbal clues.
  • Show respect.

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