A manager in a recent leadership workshop had an interesting story to share. But first, some background:
In my Leadership Academies I suggest that when managers and supervisors talk with team members, they stop what they’re doing and look at and listen to the employee. I ask them to think about this: if their boss’s boss’s boss came to their work area or office, what would their body language be? Would they keep typing and say to the CEO, “Go ahead. I can both type and hear you.”
Probably not! They would stop what they were doing, maybe stand up, look at the CEO, and certainly give him/her their full attention. Why? It’s a matter of respect.
Yet with employees we’re often distracted, half-listening, walking away, typing, shuffling things on our desks . . . all kinds of behaviors that show we’ve got a lot more important things going on than listening to them.
Back to the manager’s story. He told us that because he’s extremely busy, he’s always been one of those people who would keep working as team members asked him something. BUT, he said between our first workshop and this second one, he had tried what I suggested. And here’s what he reported. He discovered that stopping, looking at the employee, and really listening was actually SAVING him time!
He explained it this way, “I now really hear the question, fully understand what they’re saying, so I give them a correct response. We save time cleaning up things that didn’t turn out right because I had mis-heard them, told them the wrong thing or given them incomplete information.” Interesting!
So the benefits of actually listening to employees are many: improving relationships with them, building trust, and encouraging them to come to us (and we want employees to know they can come to us with questions and information–we want to be in the loop). But to think listening could also actually SAVE us TIME. Win-win-win!
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