Giving significant attention to the concerns of employees as an entrepreneur can go a long way to ensure a healthy and trustworthy relationship between you and your employees. Leaders must be very mindful of the needs of their followers. Leaders who truly demonstrate the trait of effective listening are able to secure the loyalty of their followers and the reverse goes for leaders who refuse to listen to their followers. To an employer or a leader, listening should be a full time job. Here are five forms of listening that will help you get started;
Show that you care
As an employer, one of the effective ways of showing your employees that you care about them is to move beyond the strictly professional relationship and to see your employees as people who also face similar challenges others face in life. There is no harm in finding out for example how an employee may spend his holidays during the Christmas season. Don’t just build employer-employee relationship; take interest in the general-wellbeing of your employees. Build a relationship that is professional yet very human centered. Try and have a ‘human- conversation’ with your employees; find out how their families are doing, find out some of their interests and expectations in life. That way, your employees shall understand that you do not only value them as business assets but as human beings who bring unique capabilities and experiences to bear on a job.
Beyond caring about the general well-being of your employees, take active interest in issues that are very important to your employees at the work place. Ask questions about their projects, encourage them to share with you their concerns and challenges on a given assignment and follow up on given assignments to find out how it is going. I once had a boss who took absolutely no interest in the tasks he assigned his employees. He was the typical type of “Boss” whose preoccupation was issuing commands, finding faults and castigating his employees. There was a high employee turnover during the period I worked for him but sadly, he somehow didn’t realize he was the cause of this turnover. Subsequently, I also had to leave. To this day, I am grateful I worked for him because he taught me first-hand how it is to be a non- listening leader and the implications that come with that.
Don’t Judge your employees
There is a world of difference between assessing the performance of employees which happens in all reputable firms and judging your employees. While the former focuses on the weakness and strengths and makes suggestions as to how the employee can improve his performance, the latter deals mainly with negative conclusions with little recommendation as to how employees can improve. For example; instead of suggesting to an employee that he is not good at his job (judgment), try and suggest ways the employee can improve upon his skills, find out from the employee the difficulties he faces in executing his assignments. This is how to become good listener and an effective leader.
Look beyond what is said
Listening is an art that deals with paying close attention to what is said and what is not said. In other words, focus on both the verbal and non-verbal communication. Pay attention to the body language, facial expressions of your employees. If you pay close attention to your employees, you will be able to tell how they are faring just by observing their body language.
Don’t interrupt when others are speaking
Employees respect leaders who listen. To become an effective listener, be patient, focus on what is being said and not how you should respond. Be respectful and remind yourself that your views are not always the best. Earn the respect of your employees and followers as a leader by being a patient and a compassionate listener. There are several other ways to become a better leader. Find out more about this by getting my book: Entrepreneurship Africa at www.amazon.com/author/gksarpong.
G. K. Sarpong