One of the best ways to improve employee engagement is to create a corporate culture where people feel their input and suggestions are valued. To help achieve this, it’s important to be an active listener, actually paying attention to what others are saying, absorbing information and asking follow-up questions. When employees feel like they’re being heard, they’re more inclined to become invested in the success of the business.
5 Tips to Be an Active Listener:
Be open to new ideas: If you approach each conversation as an opportunity to learn something new, you’ll be surprised at how much others can teach you. Leave preconceived notions and judgements at the door and try to come away with at least one new piece of knowledge from every conversation.
Focus on the speaker: Many people find it hard to listen because they’re actually too busy coming up with a rebuttal. Force yourself to stay focused on the speaker and clear your mind while engaging in conversation.
Reassure speakers with positive feedback: Help instill confidence in the speaker by occasionally smiling or nodding to show that your interested in what they’re saying. This also helps encourage them to continue with the conversation.
Ask open-ended questions: Ask clarifying questions throughout the conversation if you’re unclear and need additional information. A good practice is to phrase open-ended questions so that it cannot simply be answered with “yes” or “no”. Once the speaker has concluded, make sure to summarize what they’ve said to ensure you understood their position and intent.
Pay attention to body language: Part of active listening is also paying attention to body language. If a person is saying one thing, but their non-verbal communication is saying another, it’s important to ask follow-up questions so you can understand what message they’re actually trying to convey.
An effective leader is a good communicator, which often means that you listen more than you speak. Improving your active listening skills will help you connect and engage with employees, which is ultimately better for the organization overall.
To evaluate your listening skills—in addition to other leadership qualities and behaviors—take a leadership assessment. The results can help pinpoint competencies where you excel and areas for improvement.
Envision Global Leadership is an established leadership assessment and development company. We’ve helped companies assess key leadership competencies within their organization and worked to develop and support their future leaders.