Your Momma Was Right – You Need to Listen
Charalambos A.Vlachoutsicos is an adjunct professor in the International MBA Program at Athens University of Economics and Business who has outlined 6 steps to cultivate engaged employees. In our last blog we looked at modesty and how to step aside to empower our employees to solve problems and check our ego. I hope that in the past few days as you started to tell a story of your clever abilities and past success that you remembered our entreaty to be modest, clammed up, and saw a subordinate take responsibility in the space you allowed.
The next step to cultivate truly engaged employees is to listen seriously and show it.
Today we will look at listening – literally. While we as managers have learned the benefits of truly hearing our employees, we don’t always show it and they certainly don’t always see it. Have you ever been guilty of looking at your watch, reading a text, shuffling papers, or picking lint as someone was speaking to you? You may not even realize it, and certainly may be listening. But if your employees register your body language as distracted or worse, disinterested, that will be the message they hear loud and clear.
Vlachoutsicos shares the story of how he was trying to lead a turnaround at a flourmill that had undergone a takeover. The local supervisors were resisting the changes he suggested even though he had tried to include them in the decision-making. Finally Vlachoutsicos sat down with the most challenging supervisor who countered that he had never listed to his feedback. Surprised, Vlachoutsicos reminded the supervisor that he had taken copious notes at every meeting. “I saw you writing, yes, but you used loose sheets that I’m pretty sure you threw away afterward. If you were taking our input seriously, you’d be using a bound notebook, as you see me do.” Despite arguments to the contrary, the supervisor would not believe Vlachoutsicos until he brought in the large binder in which he had compiled his notes. The impact was dramatic with the supervisors trusting that he had carefully weighed their input and could accept even his decisions against their input.
Even though listening might be something you are good at, you have to show it as well. Do your employees see you as a good listener? Perhaps you should find out.