Any student of management will tell you that it’s stupid to ignore your staff’s feedback — not to mention impolite, inefficient, and often directly and obviously damaging. You don’t necessarily have to act on staff input or even agree with it, but it’s crucial to hear people out. Yet even managers who know this often turn a deaf ear — or a tin ear — to their staffs.
It’s tough to be a manager because the pressure of delivering on the production requirements of the job is often coupled with the annoying, frustrating, never ceasing caviling of team members who can’t see what you see and don’t have the perspective you have — and quite possibly wouldn’t know what to do with it if they did.
But when you don’t listen, your team can end up repeating past mistakes — and often with even worse consequences. Favorite employees can become disaffected and disgruntled, burn out, and leave as soon as they think they can get something better. And less favorite employees typically continue just as they are, without improvement, just walking in place. Productivity and engagement diminish.
Are you responding to your team? Are you noticing what’s going on with everyone on your staff?
We all sit on one side of the desk or the other at different times in our various relationships. As a manager, it’s important to be able to understand both sides all the time — to see what you see, and what the team sees. So how can you manage yourself so that you can hear what needs to be heard and work successfully with your staff?
You’re not going to change them — they are who they are. There’s no value in telling them to be different. In fact, you may have tried that already, and been disappointed.
But what if you stopped thinking of yourself as The Sole Decider or The Force or The Beleaguered and Put Upon and instead saw yourself as The Listener and Learner? What could and would you do differently then? What new ideas might you try? What better approaches might you take?
Listen to your team — they’ve been trying to tell you.
In the completion of this series next week, we’ll look at how you can develop a better relationship and better communication with the staff that is trying to help you — if you’re willing to listen.
Onward and upward,
More from this series:
- Speaking Truth to Power, Part I: Does the Leader Want to Know? Or Does the Leader Already Know?
- Speaking Truth to Power, Part II: Why It’s Best to Give Your Boss the Benefit of the Doubt
- Speaking Truth to Power, Part III: When and Where (Not) to Give Your Boss Feedback
- Speaking Truth to Power, Part IV: Are You a “Leader” Who Instills Powerlessness?
- Speaking Truth to Power, Part V: When You’re Ready to Lay It on the Line