As we approach performance review cycles, the question for leaders to consider is “have you been a good listener?” Have you truly listened to what your employees needed? Have you, as their leader, considered both what they were saying, how they said it, and what they meant? To effectively provide feedback, it’s paramount that you have listened to the needs and feedback of your employees throughout the year. Not just at review time.
Take a look at our friend Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.
Do your listening skills need some improvement? Do you think you are a great listener? Take a look at this list. Are you guilty of any of these listening habits? Remember good listening is NOT just being quiet while the other person talks.
- I have it worse. Your employee starts to complain or talk about a difficult situation. You listen quietly through their story. But then you try to one-up them with one of your stories. “You think you have it bad, here is what I am dealing with.”
- The prosecutor. You are working with your employee and you start asking very pointed detailed questions. Almost like you are trying to get the employee to confess to a crime. Are you listening or manipulating your employee?
- The Detour. Your employee is talking to you about a project. At the first available option, you say “that reminds me of…” You essentially reroute the conversation to something you want to talk about.
- The Shakespearean Hero. Your employee is talking, you are quiet, but there is an entire Shakespearean play going on in your head. You are not listening. You are just nodding, and your story is playing out in your mind.
- The Pouncer. This type of listener listens for specifically want they disagree with and then pounces. Regardless of the entire conversation, if there is a moment that the leader disagrees with his/her employee, they will pounce, start to criticize, and over-focus on that moment.
- The Multi Tasker. Have you ever tried to talk to someone and they continue to do what they were doing. For example, working on their computer. There is nothing worse than trying to talk to someone who is multi tasking. As a leader, if you don’t have the time to listen to someone, ask them if they could come back in a few minutes.
When you can quiet your mind actively listen to what is said, how it is said, and what is not said, you will be able to connect with employees, create a safe space for collaboration and discussion, and enable you and the employee to grow and learn.
Don’t be a Sheldon!