MANAGEMENT JUST ISN'T
By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Two out of every three employees
believes management isn't listening to them.
One day a concerned husband visited his doctor. He said, "Doc,
I'm really worried. My wife appears to be going deaf. She never hears me and I
don't know what to do." "Here is what I want you to do," said the Doctor. Go
home and stand about 15 feet away from her and say something. If she doesn't
hear you, walk about 5 feet closer and try again. Keep on doing this until she
hears you. This will help us determine the severity of her hearing loss."
So the man went home. He peered into the entrance to the kitchen
and saw his wife chopping some vegetables near the sink. He said to her,
"Honey, what's for dinner?" There was no reply. He then took 3 large steps
closer and said, "Honey, what's for dinner?" Again, there was no reply. Now, he
started to get really worried. He walked up to right behind her and repeated
for the third time, "Honey, what's for dinner?"
She turned to him and said angrily, "For the third time, we're
having vegetable stew."
The problem was not that she couldn't hear, it was that he wasn't
listening. This is a common problem in organizations. Management often
complains that employees aren't listening, but it's really management who isn't
Our research shows that 2 out of 3 employees don't feel management
is listening to them. They resent managers for this and feel they are not being
respected. Due to this lack of respect, employees become disenchanted and grow
to resent and distrust their managers.
TOP OF PAGE
WHAT TO DO
Here are some methods managers can use to become better
- Be Open-Minded
All too often, senior managers assume that
employees are incapable of coming up with useful suggestions. They mistakenly
believe that employees are not as smart as they are and are out of touch with
the realities of the business. They, therefore, ignore or discount employee
suggestions. But managers should realize that employees have a different, not
worse, perspective. They may well even have an insight that managers don't
have. After all, they typically have much more frequent contact with customers
and have more first-hand knowledge about the quality of the organization's
products and services.
- Be Curious
Senior managers should develop an inquisitive
mindset. They should constantly be asking employees at all levels of the
organization questions such as: "How are things going? What are customers
saying? What improvements are needed? What do you suggest?"
- Use Unconditional Positive Regard
If employees feel their ideas are not respected,
they will clam up. Managers should adopt a consistent attitude that all
employees, whether janitors or board members, are valuable sources of
- Use Open-Ended Questions
Managers who are good listeners ask open-ended
questions such as: "Tell me more about that. How do you feel about that? What
do you think is causing the problem? What suggestions do you have?" These types
of questions are more apt to lead to employee responses in the form of
paragraphs rather than less useful one-word answers.
- Be An Active Listener
Good listeners are not passive. They nod their
heads at the appropriate times and ask many follow-up questions. They maintain
strong eye contact and say things during the conversation such as, "I see" and
"Uh-huh." In short, an actively listening manager can make an employee really
feel that he or she is being understood.
- Use Restatements
Restating what an employee has just said is a
very useful technique that leads to the employee revealing more information.
For example, if an employee were to say, "Our customers are not happy with our
new telephone system," the manager would simply say, "Our customers are not
happy with our new telephone system." Typically, once an employee hears the
restatement, he or she will clarify, elaborate, or expand upon what had just
been said. More importantly, the employee will feel that the manager is really
- Use Pauses
This listening technique is very powerful. A long
pause by a manager during a conversation with an employee will undoubtedly
stimulate that employee to speak further on the topic.
Take a lesson from they guy that went to the doctor about his
wife's supposed hearing problem. If you are not hearing your employees, it's
probably because you're not listening. Becoming a good listener by using good
listening techniques can lead to useful information and improve relationships
you're your employees.
I am very much
interested in your views on this topic.
Please reply with your comments and
suggestions to .
TOP OF PAGE
All material is © copyright , Discovery Surveys, Inc.,