Letting your team know that you’ve heard will help you, their leader, create a better bottom line, and then some
It’s all very well to listen to a team member—but you’re actually in a minefield if you’re not also having them feel heard.
Let’s just back up for a minute though and do some important framing…
Your last bulletin carried some critical messages to help you ensure your key people don’t disappear as the economy strengthens and the job market heats up. To remind you, the most critical of these messages were:
- At all times, your team members must feel genuinely respected and valued by you.
- Consultation works, being directive doesn’t (unless there’s something going on like a “fire in the building”).
- You need to (a) listen to your team members—and (b) they need to feel heard.
I want us to pick up on that important third point so we can make sure you never, ever trip yourself up because you have a team member who doesn’t feel heard by you.
Are You One Of Those Leaders Who’s In A Minefield?
Quite frankly, I can’t tell you how many times (as an external coach) people tell me that their leader doesn’t listen, doesn’t encourage them to contribute, and doesn’t value their contribution. Well, let’s put this into perspective…
As a rule, I think that an average leader listens fairly well, but, and it’s a big but, it’s frequent that leaders don’t add the “having them feel heard” step.
Let’s be absolutely certain your team members never, ever have this perception of you. It makes your leadership job far too hard if you’re in this minefield! Oh, and I’d better describe why I think it’s a minefield…
What Are The Business Consequences, The Ramifications?
Here’s a likely scenario of a team member who’s not feeling listened to, heard, understood or acknowledged…
- Initially their discretionary effort starts to fall off—simply because their sense that they’re making a valuable contribution diminishes.
- Then, if their dissatisfaction continues, they complain, to themselves and to their peers, which more seriously impacts their own and others’ motivation and productivity.
- Then, if their dissatisfaction persists, the “not heard” team member—as well as others who’ve been “infected”—consider finding a new role in which they think their needs will be better met.
Does this sound like a fanciful story? I promise you it’s not. One example is a not-feeling-heard senior leader I encountered less than twelve-months ago…
Not only did this not-feeling-heard senior leader leave, he took one of the organisation’s valuable mid-level leaders with him. The departure of these two leaders would have cost the business many tens of thousands of dollars!
Your Leadership Call to Action
The very best thing you can do to stay out of this minefield is simply to always, always be alert to the need to having your team member feel heard. This awareness is your number one action item.
There are also two crucial how-to-help-your-team-members-feel-heard action steps you can immediately take…
When your team member communicates a thought, idea, or contribution of any sort, even (well, especially) something that you disagree with:
Oh, this one can be difficult for the extroverts “in the room” …
Be quiet until they’ve finished espousing their thoughts. Let them talk without you interrupting with your experience, your good idea, or your correction to their thinking.
Hear what’s being said—as well as what’s not yet being said…
Let them know that you’re interested and want to understand their perceptions.
Be curious about their thinking and their views—be authentically, genuinely and sincerely curious about what they’ve just said, and what’s behind what they’ve said.
By increasing your awareness of the need and doing a good job of these two steps, you’re going to enhance your relationship with your team members, they’ll feel respected and valued by you, they’ll exercise discretionary effort, they’ll be more motivated and enthusiastic about exceeding their KPIs, and their tenure with your team will be a lot longer.
Now, that’s all good for business, isn’t it?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.