As a team leader, it can be difficult to actively listen to a group of employees and actually hear what they’re saying. You may feel pulled in many different directions like a giant game of tug-of-war, with you in the middle holding multiple ropes. There’s no doubt this can be exhausting.
Even though you may feel like tuning out some of these messages you receive throughout the workday, know that listening to your team is a key way to build a positive company culture. Here are a couple of reasons why:
Feedback improves leadership
Once you invite an open dialogue with your teammates, you will begin to learn things you never knew about the company culture. Everyone encounters different situations and issues that may be creating additional stress and dropping morale. What better way to pinpoint these problem areas than to simply ask and listen?
By encouraging and accepting regular feedback, you’re letting your teammates know their voices are heard and matter. They will feel valued and thankful that they’re at an organization that has their best interests in mind. Better yet, you will develop a team approach to growth.
Listening skills build trust
When you consistently listen to your coworkers, you show you care. That empathy will develop feelings of trust between you and your teammates. This will help strengthen their loyalty to following you, especially during any periods of transition.
Once your teammates feel like they can trust you, they won’t be as hesitant to discuss their needs with you. For example, it can be intimidating to seek the tools and resources they need especially when costs are involved. When you open up your office and truly listen to your teammates, they will be more open to share what they need to succeed.
Stress levels decrease
A fear of change or the unknown can create feelings of uneasiness within a company culture. For example, an employee who is unsure about their performance may feel like their job is at risk and worry for potentially no reason. Unanswered questions can also fog clarity within the office - a problem that’s easy to solve if you just listen and answer accordingly. This will help you support well-being as well as team growth.
Priorities are evident
Think of listening to your teammates as step one of a positive company culture. The second step is taking action about their comments. When you truly listen to someone, that doesn’t mean it should go in one ear and come out the other. You should genuinely respond to your employees in adequate time - even a “I need a little more time” is a better response than none. As you address their concerns you will quickly earn leadership points with your employees.
Cultivate your conversations
The key to effective conversations is engagement. As you work to intentionally communicate with your team, keep these polite listening tips in mind:
- Don’t interrupt
- Don’t cast immediate judgement
- Repeat the message you believe they are saying
Make sure to pass along these tips to other members of your leadership team who help with management. It truly takes all hands on deck to build a positive company culture.
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