It’s been a harsh 24 months for some of my clients. Key learnings keep repeating, so thought they might be useful to you. I promise, the key points will be short, and include critical ‘what to do about it.’ These items have caused my clients such issues as stress, loss of time, a demoralized workforce and more (yeah and losing scads of money). These are powerful derailers for leaders.
Streetwise Leadership #1 – Listen Proactively (sometimes called listening between the lines*):
When an employee is motivated enough to actually tell you something, the last thing you want to do is shut down that motivation. What if you could harness that motivation? Here are some tips:
- Listen for a few minutes. If you only want to invest 5 minutes, tell them upfront and then listen attentively for the 5 minutes. I had one guy tell me that once he gave an employee who had been trying to talk to him for a year the 5 min she needed. The whole relationship changed. If they need more time, use #2.
- Hold them accountable for what they are saying. Easy ways to do this: First, ask them to, without sacrificing their regular work, write it down (use this for notes at the next meeting, if it happens, often there is no second conversation – I call this the perfect BS filter). Second, ask them, “If you were in my position, what would you do, and how would you do it (this drives bigger picture thinking)?”
The key learning here is not that you gave someone some time, or held them accountable or they felt engaged. What you have is the opportunity to hear what’s important. Because in those 5 minutes, you hear what is going on and you get to ask the question, ‘Where does this come from? What causes this to arise? Is it important? What do I need to do to drive engagement of my strategic agenda?”
There is a lot of research to back this up, take a look at this Deloitte Survey (If anything, just read the last two bullet points of the last page). The full link is below if it got lost above.
One of my clients has actually started leaving her office and going to see employees, managers and others to see how things are going. Results – amazing!
And by the way if you don’t listen well; get some coaching and learn, it is an acquired skill for just about everybody.
Streetwise Leadership #2 – Teach Respect (there is a hidden agenda in this one and you will see why you care.).
Be well, do good work and keep in touch.