For managers, learning how to be a better listener for their team can be challenging. You want to offer endless support, but your responsibilities are stacking up and it’s tough to find the time. When your team was smaller you were able to check in with everyone more often, but you have less bandwidth now.
No matter how busy things get, it’s crucial to give employees a voice. They need to know you are open to hearing their perspectives and ideas. They need to know that even though you might be less present at times, you’re still “all ears” when it comes to their needs and pains.
Did you know? 85% of Officevibe users are satisfied with how frequently they communicate with their managers.
We’ll walk you through how to be a better listener for your team. This will help you learn more about their needs while ensuring they feel understood.
The benefits of taking the time to listen to your employees
When teams are led by managers who take the time to listen, there are several positive effects as a result. On a personal level, employees feel supported, which sets the bar for a high-performing team. As a result, being a good listener goes a long way.
Here are the top 5 benefits of being a better listener for your team:
1. Fosters stronger connections
Employees notice when a manager converses with them rather than speaks to them. Managers with effective listening skills take an interest and develop strong connections with their team when they understand their needs.
2. Builds confident employees
When employees can share trepidations and progress with their managers, they build trust. This results in higher confidence, which encourages employees to share their input and take risks.
3. Levels the playing field
The dynamic of manager-to-employee can develop a sense of hierarchy that may stilt conversations. When managers level with their team by listening intently, employees open up much more.
💡 Bonus: Being vulnerable by drawing on personal experiences helps to humanize conversations. Be sure to strike a balance between being open with your team and giving employees the ability to express themselves.
4. Creates supportive workplaces
When teams know that they can count on their managers to listen, they feel supported. That sense of stability and reliability is key for performance. Employees who can express themselves authentically are happier at work, more engaged, and willing to contribute to a positive workplace culture.
5. High performing teams
Managers who listen and act on the needs of the team inspire employees to achieve their objectives. Being curious about your team and their needs helps them divulge what they need to succeed. When employees feel supported with the tools and resources they need, they’re more likely to reach their goals. A true, win-win!
Listening to your team’s needs doesn’t have to break the time bank. Officevibe encourages employees to share their voice using the anonymous feedback tool. This increases their ability to divulge information they wouldn’t otherwise share.
Has it been a while since you checked in with your team? Officevibe has got you covered. With pulse surveys, you can listen to your team in real-time and gather important data to drive successful teams.
5 ways busy managers can be better listeners for their team
Practicing listening habits can be tricky, especially for managers who are short on time and resources. Having a versatile approach to effective listening helps busy managers understand their team’s needs via different types of listening skills.
Here are top 5 tips for effective listening
1. Contextualize the conversation: Be a generous listener
Before beginning your discussion, remember that context matters. Putting yourself in their shoes helps to empathize with their point of view. Knowing where an employee comes from helps shape conversations in a cohesive way. Listening generously means you’re aware of the circumstances of an individual, in addition to what they have to say.
Tip: Being a generous and active listener means arriving with the contextual knowledge of the discussion. Take in where they may be coming from and allow the person to express their points without being interrupted.
2. Be mindful of interruptions: Listen to understand rather than to respond
When employees confide in you with valuable information related to projects or team dynamics, it’s important to allow them to finish their thoughts.It’s human nature to feel the need to jump in with a solution-oriented mindset. While that’s encouraged, it’s equally as important to listen to understand their point of view rather than listen with the intent of fixing the issue right away.
Tip: When an employee expresses themselves, allow them to finish their full stream of thought. When they’re ready for you to respond, ask them how you can best support them with an answer. This will guide you to find a solution that suits the situation. As a result, employees will learn to be solution oriented while giving you the ability to fully hear them out.
3. Be receptive: Pay attention to nonverbal cues
Body language and nonverbal cues are helpful indicators that listening is taking place. Evaluate your body language and make sure you’re demonstrating receptive nonverbal communication. You can do this by making sure your facial expressions respond, professionally, to what is being discussed.
Tip: Make sure your arms are uncrossed, and that you’re leaning slightly forward to demonstrate that you’re present. Absorb what an employee is telling you and develop eye contact to let them know you’re paying attention.
4. Be perceptive: Listen to what’s not being said
As a manager it’s important for you to look out for your own nonverbal cues, as well as those from your team. Picking up on body language and tone of voice from employees is important. If they hint towards an issue a few times in the same conversation, ask if they need to discuss that particular topic more. Often what isn’t being said can ring louder than what they’re verbally communicating.
Tip: Prevent making assumptions by asking them if there’s more they need to discuss. If so, let them know that this is a safe space for them to share their thoughts and ideas. If not, let them know that you’re here to listen and provide access to resources where they can share anonymous feedback, like Officevibe’s anonymous feedback tool .
5. Confirm key points: Repeat what’s been said
When employees elaborate on their grievances, they speak with the intention for you to understand them and help them get back on track. This may be difficult, especially in a remote context when technology glitches can throw off our ability to hear people out as they had originally intended.
Tip: Towards the end of the conversation, summarize the issue at hand, the solutions discussed and any next steps. This encourages employees to confirm what they need and gives them agency to express themselves if they’ve been misunderstood.
Being an effective communicator also means being a good listener. When managers adopt this mindset, they open the door to dynamic conversations that positively impact their team. After all, communication is at the heart of every healthy relationship.