Great Managers have Big Ears

It’s been said a hundred thousand times – managers must know or learn how to listen to their team members. There it is. I put it right out here in the first line. If you’re going to be in charge of others, do them the courtesy of listening to what they have to say.  How else are you going to know what your people are thinking?

Fast Company interviewed Angela Ahrendts about her transition to Apple*. I found the opening question a bit surprising. “How have you gone about improving morale in a workforce of 60,000?” I wasn’t aware there was a morale issue at Apple but that’s something we can look into another time. Today, I want to focus on her answer, which I think can be quite instructive. She started her reply with, “I would first of all just listen and learn.”

It may seem like common sense. Unfortunately, all too often, common sense is not common practice. If you’re not paying attention to what your team members are saying, chances are you’re not learning all you could be about how your team members are doing, what they’re doing, and what they need.  If you’re going to be in charge of people, it might be a good idea to know these things. Wouldn’t you agree?

I’ve always felt managers should be a remover of roadblocks, not a creator of them.  Foster open, judgement-free communication. Listen to what your team members have to say and watch how much more pleasant and productive your team will be.

* First of All, Just Listen and Learn. Fast Company, 2016 Special Edition p. 16-17.