Real Leaders are Good at Listening and Follow-through
A client manager of mine recently asked this question: How do you handle the team when they give you input and suggestions but you don’t use it all. Then they think you don’t listen?
Skills for Dealing with Feedback and Listening Effectively
Bottom-line, once you ask for input, you have to close the loop on the communication. Consider these steps with your team.
- Summarize what they are saying…”What I hear you saying is…” Take notes and keep track of their recommendations.
- Ask questions to clarify the issue or recommendation.
- Answer immediately where you can…and act on it.
- Follow-up on other items in a timely manner and re-communicate with the team: “What we heard is…” “What we have decided to do is…and why.” “What we can’t do is…and why.”
- Thank you…Always appreciate the input.
Asking for input doesn’t mean you do everything they ask. You do have to have to listen. It does mean you have to get back to them quickly and respond constructively and positively even when you don’t use some of their ideas. This is respectful. This adds to employee engagement. In addition, it enhances trust. It’s a lot like your approach with customers. You don’t answer a customer’s question without summarize your understanding of their issue and then thoroughly reviewing what you will do. Why would we treat our team any differently?
One manager I know holds feedback sessions with his team three to four times a year. He holds small group meetings and takes notes on their suggestions on a flip-chart. Then he publishes office hours so those who want to can meet with him one on one. Then a couple of weeks later he follows up and tells people what he will do and won’t do and why. He also forms a couple of ad hoc teams to work on any complicated issues. This is the essence of listening and employee engagement. His results: leadership in sales and customer service, employee turnover rates 10X below industry averages. It works.
Additional Resources for Getting Feedback and Listening
Check out these two posts for additional thoughts. The best of success to you!
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