Better Listening: Are You Hearing What Your Employees are Saying?

BY Kathy Crosett
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As a manager, you’ve got dozens of details you’re tracking. You’re worried your team isn't going to make goal by the end of the day. And then, one of your team members pops into your office for a chat. It's the last thing you're in the mood for, but you should make the time to listen. Kristi Hedges, leadership coach, has a couple of suggestions for how to pay attention and really hear what the other person is saying.

Avoid the Reverse-​Halo Effect

Managers can sometimes be guilty of employing the reverse halo effect when they are interacting with a team member. While the halo effect is all about being positively influenced by another person without good reason, some managers allow a team member’s undesirable traits to prevent them from listening properly — situation known as the reverse-​halo effect. Maybe this team member talks in an aggressive manner or invades your personal space. Whatever the reason, you may be unfairly discounting or judging this person before she even starts talking. To be an effective listener, recognize that you have irrational emotions and then put them aside. Listen to your team member's complete discussion and then consider your reactions. Are you tempted to say no simply because you're still upset about something that happened weeks ago? If that’s the case, work harder at practicing your listening skills without allowing emotions to sway your decision.

Take in the Big Picture

Many times, a team member will want to run endless details by you in a conversation. These types of conversations are often about them making sure you understand exactly what they are doing. They might want encouragement or guidance on a specific part of a difficult project. In some cases, they might also want to vent, and as a manager, you should lend an ear. But, remember that you want to take something away from the conversation. Listen carefully to see if you can determine why your top seller has started the conversation. Understanding their motivation will guide you in deciding how to respond. Think about the issue at a summary level and repeat the main points back to the person. Doing so ensures that you see the big picture and will help you remember to take the action your employee is hoping for.

Check out all the points Kristi Hedges makes and focus on developing ‘humble listening’ skills that are prized in today's leading businesses.