The Top Skill a Manager Needs
As a manager, you are there to inform employees what each position requires and to give them the opportunity to meet those requirements and expectations. I know that you have heard this before; you may not realize just how critical your role is to the bottom line of the company’s profits. If you build and implement strong management skills, your staff, as well as the company, will thrive in a very competitive business environment.
Listening is a critical skill to managing a team, and often neglected by managers. A manager has a lot on their plates and often listen partially and don’t get all the information nor stop to understand the employee. With partial information or previous experiences with the employee, a manager’s decision probably won’t be the best one.
If a manager is known not to listen, employees will feel less motivated or engaged in their work. Employees are people, and they need to feel respected for who they are, how they can contribute to the success of the company, and providing supportive feedback on their performance.
Studies show that one of the most prominent reasons an employee leaves is because of their manager. You are responsible for building a strong working environment, so you need to develop your listening skills to provide the best coaching and tools for each person.
Quick Point — Active listening gains the employee’s trust. You show you care for them, and they, in turn, will provide you with the same confidence and attention.
Equal to building strong working relationships with employees, when a manager listens, they also receive valuable business information that will help them manage projects or anticipate potential business issues. Employees have information a manager can use to be successful in their business.
It’s important to build your “listening muscles.” Let go of the past; don’t think about all you need to do in the future, and instead stay present with the person. Being present doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours listening; rather you can say to the person, “I only have ten minutes right now, or we can speak later at a better time.” Most of the time, the employee requires a short amount of time but needs the full attention of the manager.
What are the benefits of listening while engaging with others?
- You shut down your thoughts and listen to the other person. Listening minimizes the time that you are in reaction mode by not giving your full attention to the facts. When you listen, you are available to receive more information, which guides you in making decisions.
- As you listen, you can ask questions to gather further understanding. Questions ensure that the employee is clear about the information.
- Listening allows you to build stronger working relationships with your team members. They feel you respect them when you take the time to listen to them. Employees who feel heard to are usually loyal to their manager and are more engaged in their work.
- While you are listening to the employee, listen to your thoughts to see whether you have enough room to hear what he or she has to say. If you are pretending to listen, while figuring out what to say next, the employee will know and not feel heard. You are just wasting your time.
- When an employee feels listened to, he or she is more open to hearing you.
If you think your listening skills are not that strong, what can you do to improve them?
- Practice giving your full attention by eliminating distractions. For example, mute your phone, shut down your email, and even move away from your office to give your full attention.
- Always may eye contact with the speaker.
- Take deep breaths to clear your head, so you are available to listen.
- Allow the speaker some time to get their thoughts out. Again, if you have limited time, indicate so and schedule another time when you are available. Providing a time limit is okay. This way you feel more comfortable giving them your full attention because you both know there is a time limit.
- If you feel frustrated with an employee because he or she is rambling and not concise in their communication, you can provide feedback that you need them to be clearer in their thoughts.
- Ask questions or give them feedback on what you think they said. Sum up their thoughts for clarity.