Listen…and Learn

Listen and Learn

I heard a story the other day about a man who was worried that his wife was going deaf. One day he thought he would test this out.

She was in the living room with the door open and he called from the top of the stairs, “Lisa, can you hear me?” – no answer.

He tried again from the foot of the stairs… still no answer.

Worried by this time he went to the living room doorway and said, “Lisa, can you hear me?” 

“For the third time, YES!” came the reply…

We all like to think that we listen, but do we…really?!

In last week’s blog I talked about the importance of positive language – being mindful of what we say and how we say it.  The truth is though that our team will probably judge us more on our ability to listen  – and crucially, to hear what’s being said.

When a member of our team expresses genuine doubts, do we hear them, or do we dismiss their concerns as negativity?   We all know people like the two old men from the Muppets who don’t actually do anything, yet criticise everyone else’s efforts.  It’s really easy to dismiss this type of person as negative.  But what about those who come up with a good idea, or an alternative system, or a different/ better/ easier way of doing what you’ve always done.  Do we also dismiss these people, even though they clearly care?

You can’t build a truly high performing team, if you think you’re the one who has to have all the ideas, and see all the potential cracks in your systems.  You can’t ever free yourself from working day to day in your business if you don’t trust your team, and listen to what they have to say.

Many a business has faltered, failed or not reached its full potential because ego has run the business, rather than a leader who actively seeks the opinions of customers, team members and peers.

As business owners, we should all have faith in our own ability, our brain and our gut instinct, it’s got us this far, right?  But we are also leaders, working with a hand-picked team of committed individuals who share our values and are inspired by our vision, so why would we not make the most of that combined brain power and ability?

As Ray Kroc, who grew the McDonald’s corporation from one small business to a global empire would say, ‘None of us is as good as all of us’, and it can say a lot about your culture if that is your philosophy – if your team know that they can freely raise concerns, or make suggestions, and be confident that you will not only listen to their words, but also hear what they say.

Do one thing: ask your team to rate on a scale of 1 -10 how freely they can express their opinions to you or make suggestions to improve your systems

Have a great week!

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