Top five signs your managers aren't listening to you

Time to start actively listening to them

Properly managed change is critical for the strength and sustainability of a business.

It is imperative that new strategies can be designed, adopted and deployed readily, with full commitment at every level.  When change is a goal, there must be time for listening.  It is natural to hope that a change initiative will be like a cresting wave, sweeping all along and clearing out the old ways of working.  But change strategies will stall, or even fail, if key players are not heard.  

If you are experiencing any of the following problems, you may need to stop and listen:

  1. People seem confused about their job responsibilities, and things are falling through the cracks.
  2. A formerly productive manager is struggling in her role.
  3. Objectives and agreed upon results have not been realized.
  4. A frontline team is resisting planned changes, though you thought they were on board.
  5. It is becoming apparent that there is a disconnect with your manager on the new strategy you thought was clearly mapped, fully understood, and agreed to.

How is this hurting your business?

  1. The new strategy has stalled and will not be effectively implemented, if at all.
  2. Productivity will nosedive because people are confused about their roles – goals and new processes are unclear.
  3. “Regrettable” turnover is costing the business.
  4. Customers and clients are not receiving the benefit of your new strategy, and neither is your bottom line.

What can you do? 

Resistance to change, for everyone, comes when we believe we are not being heard. Positions become inflexible. Feelings are shut down, driving behaviors that can be disruptive, destructive and difficult to manage.

Active listening is one of the most powerful tools we can employ as human beings engaged in the world, no matter the context.  Listening in this way is a dynamic process that can transform relationships and the work environment.

This takes time – but not as much time as you might think. Time to listen is time well-spent, given what occurs if you don’t work through this step. Knowing how and when to listen is an essential component of successful leadership.

Take a hard look at where the problems seem to be arising, and then invite your key players to talk to you about what they think is happening.  Better yet, invite some of the people on the teams in question to give you input as well. When you are listening, make eye contact, and don’t take notes. Let them speak until they are finished.  Hear them out, even if you don’t agree.  When they have finished, repeat back to them what they said, without judgment or criticism. Learn to reframe their words in a way that allows them to take a fresh look at what they are feeling and makes it clear they have been heard.

Then you can work on making the changes you know you need to make. If you have listened well, you will have a better idea of how to make those changes. By actively listening to people on the ground who have the power in their daily activities to make your business succeed or fail, you will win loyalty and buy-in.  The changes you need to see can become a reality.

Categories: Management & Leadership, Web Exclusives