Today has been a common theme of acknowledging that ‘I guess I should have listened better’. I missed the event details for my daughter’s science competition, missed some bathroom renovation details, and didn’t notice that my client hadn’t signed the check until at the bank even though it was mentioned earlier. As I came to this conclusion I wondered if as bosses we do the same thing with our staff. We have so many demands on our attention; it’s not unreasonable that we resort to auto pilot every now and then. So to break the cycle and make sure that we are really hearing what our staff is telling us, here are a few tips.
Identify the main point
Sometimes people don’t get to the point and then there are the times where we just can’t grasp it. To make sure that we communicate effectively, we need to summarize the conversation and ensure that we have identified things that need action.
As women we are infamous for our ability to do a million things at once, but this habit makes it hard for us to one thing really well. So when your staff comes to you with an issue, problem or praise take a second and stop whatever you are doing. Look at the person. Listen to what is being said. Focus on the conversation.
Get involved and ask questions
I know that what I’m guilty of is passive active listening. I can mirror and reframe the story all day long. I’m engaged when I have to stop and formulate specific questions. I have to stop what I’m doing, look at the other person and listen. So my advice is to listen to what’s being brought to you and ask for more information and input. The act of asking questions forces you to get involved and when you are involved, you listen.
Being a CEO isn’t easy, but listening is a skill that transcends positions and makes you think about what you’re doing and saying. When you’re leading, you need to know that you can hear the warnings and miss the potholes.