No matter where you stand in the world of business—whether you're already on top or you're just trying to break in—some skills are infinitely valuable at any level. One such crucial skill seems simple, but still is dismissed or forgotten all too often: The ability to listen. When employees are surveyed on their bosses' strengths and weaknesses, listening typically seems to fall on the weak end of the spectrum. The inability to listen could look like one of many things; whether you're devoting more attention to your smartphone than the person speaking, or you have a tendency to react strongly to bad news, being a poor listener is a huge deterrent to open communication. The following video takes a quick look at some tips to becoming a better listener. Tuning in to what your employees are saying will ultimately help make you into the type of manager who's worth talking to. And if you're not the boss yet, check out the video anyway—a little listening can go a long way.
Do you ever feel like meetings with your boss would be just as productive if you went into a bathroom stall and talked to a wall? You’re not alone. Studies show a third of employees feel like their bosses don’t listen to them. Numbers don’t lie – out of 4,000 surveyed managers in the U.S., the biggest gap between a manager’s self-evaluation and colleague’s assessment was when it came to how good of listeners managers think they are.
So what can you do as a Manager? You can start by listening up. Here are four simple ways to improve your listening skills on the job:
- When you’re talking to anyone - give them your undivided attention. Don’t check email, put your phone away, and focus. Prove you are listening by being 100% present.
- While no one likes bad news, make it a point to receive both good and bad news with poise so your team never has to fret about coming to you with information.
- Even though listening alone is a great first step, actually doing something about what you hear is how you become respected. Research shows that 40% of leadership is listening - the rest is doing something about what you’ve learned.
- Finally, conduct a 360 anonymous review with your team every six months so you know where you stand. A study of 1,500 participants from NYU showed the higher up the corporate ladder a boss is, the less likely they are to listen and take advice from their peers and team. Self-evaluation will help you buck the trend.
A wise man once said, “It is never too early to shut up and listen, but it’s often too late.”