Have you ever felt the frustration of giving feedback to an employee who isn’t really listening to you? Having your words fall on deaf ears in this way is maddening. This is especially true when what you have to say is crucial to the success of your team members and company.
It’s rare for someone in a management position to always feel heard and understood. Many times, workers “check out” as soon as they realize their boss is giving them feedback on their performance. Why? Because employees are afraid they are going to be criticized harshly. Also, most managers have room to grow as communicators.
Command Attention By Being Authentic
If your employees don’t listen when you talk, perhaps you aren’t communicating effectively. Dave Pottruck, contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, said, “Leadership communication is a discipline and a practice: The more time, effort, and heart you put in, the more effective you become. There really are no shortcuts.” The question is how do leaders become better communicators (i.e., speak so that people listen)? Pottruck suggests that they first and foremost strive to be authentic. He wrote, “When you speak with your employees, you must come across to them as real. This means sharing your beliefs and your struggles.” Being authentic with employees may not feel natural at first, but it will engage them.
Before and After a Criticism, Offer a Compliment!
Compliments are beautiful things. When genuine, they can grab a listener’s attention powerfully. If you are in a situation in which an employee’s attention is needed, begin the conversation by praising the team member’s performance. This is vital if you are about to give negative feedback. Padding negative feedback between compliments will both command your worker’s attention and leave him or her feeling good about your interaction.
The Secret to Putting Employees at Ease During Conversations
Is there an employee you’ve been avoiding giving negative feedback to because you are dreading his or her response? If so, consider inviting a third party into your meeting. This is not for your sake, but that of your employee. “A boss-employee conversation may seem casual to the boss but can feel like an interrogation to the employee,” said Entrepreneur Magazine contributor Jim McCann. “To diffuse this situation, I like to bring others into the conversation to even out the experience. It benefits me because I get to hear more voices, and it helps put everyone else at ease.”
Bosses sometimes feel like high-school teachers trying to get the attention of teenagers. Teachers have to pursue training to learn to communicate well with their students. In the same way, managers must learn communication methods that get through to employees. Padding criticism with genuine compliments, involving others in tough conversations, and being authentic with your workers will definitely cause employees to listen when you speak.
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