Dave Marr is a Director at t2 Management Training. t2 offers advanced leadership training to managers of all types, from team leader to Director and CEO level. Dave and his team have worked with some of the biggest brands and household names in the UK, including the NHS (National Health Service), Lloyds Bank and the London Eye. In the following blog he shares a very simple but effective technique that will make you a better manager and leader.
How a Manager or Leader can Develop Effective Listening Skills – One Simple Technique that Always Improves Team Morale
When it comes to 360 appraisals, the most common complaint by staff is the feeling that their managers have not listened to them properly. 360 appraisals are an important factor in maintaining good staff morale and are especially significant when you are growing a business and want to keep it running smoothly. To perform effective appraisals, managers need to master the ability to listen. Here is a simple way to do so, to enhance the morale in any de-motivated teams.
Often, managers do not know how to effectively listen to staff members. Whilst a manager may believe that they are listening to their staff, the individual team members may not agree and will amplify the issue in their mind, convinced that the management is not interested in them. This of course leads to low morale and feelings of neglect within the workforce.
My team find this to be one of the most common issues in the workplace. Managers that come to us for advice often label their staff as troublemakers or negative individuals and then refuse to listen to those staff members, either by interrupting them when speaking of not concentrating during conversations and appraisals.
Each time this situation appears, we use the following exercise to overcome it. Whilst this simple exercise originates in the world of stand up comedy, it transfers perfectly to the workplace.
When appraising staff, we challenge managers to begin their response with the last letter of the last word the employee says to them. This forces the manager to listen to everything that is said to them.
If the employee says something like “I am falling really far behind on this project. The information is impossible to find and the marketing department are not passing over the figures I am asking for. I cannot complete this project on time for the annual board meeting.”
Then the manager could respond with “Great. Let me start off by thanking you for bringing these issues to my attention. What do you need me to do to help you meet the project deadline?”
There are two very positive outcomes to this exercise:
- As the manager is listening for the end of the statement, they are not cutting the employee off mid-sentence, so the entire message is heard.
- The manager has to pause to think of a response that begins with the right letter. This tells the member of staff that the information is being processed and that what they have said is being respected and considered.
At t2 Management Training we frequently use this technique, having seen hundreds of managers achieve much stronger results and improve staff morale. It is very easy to remember, can be implemented into working practices immediately and means that communication in the workplace is greatly improved.
Thank you for this interesting post on the art and science of listening skills.
I also like what Tom Peters has said about listening: Listening is the Ultimate “Core Competence.” The “R.O.I.” from listening is higher than that from any other single activity.
Thanks and regards,