Navigating the Challenges of Active Listening as a Manager
Updated: Mar 26
When you've established yourself as a manager and an active listener, you'll gain the numerous benefits that come with it. Unfortunately, you will also have to deal with its disadvantages or downsides.
As your employees have always become the audience, they will start telling you things they really shouldn't be sooner or later. On other occasions, even though you will be having a meaningful conversation with them, they will be comfortable and might even overstay their welcome.
Some over-enthusiastic employees may end up spending more time talking to you than actually doing productive work. There may be times when employees come to you with their issues, and you try to console them, but they end up overdoing it. You might find yourself struggling to balance your own workload with the time required for these conversations.
No matter how annoying it may be, being an active listener is better than being labelled as a selfish, self-centred manager. To avoid such extremes, you will need to have some polite conversation, using soft words with them to defuse the situation.
Below are a few conversation terminators which counterbalance the whole situation in no time and can politely ease you out of an uncomfortable conversation with your employee:
We've had a great conversation; I wish I had more time.
All that you have said is incredible. I'll think about it later.
It was great having this conversation with you.
Let me think about that for some time. I will get back to you.
It has been an enlightening conversation. You have done great.
As a manager, it does not mean you have to shut down every employee's advancement towards engaging in a conversation with you. Sure, you're the manager – the busy guy. However, it's essential to strike a balance between providing support to your employees and ensuring that your own work gets done.
You can use the above-discussed sentences that can be used to defuse a conversation without being given the title of being too impolite. In this way, your employees will get a clear message that you are busy and can have the conversation at another time.
They would not jump to think that you're just rude. Moreover, establishing boundaries and setting specific times for open conversations can help you manage your time more effectively. Encourage employees to schedule appointments or set up regular check-ins to ensure that their concerns are addressed without interrupting your workflow.
Another approach to tackle the downsides of active listening is to delegate some of the responsibilities to other team members or supervisors. This will not only lighten your load but also empower your team members to grow and develop their management and communication skills.
Being an active listener as a manager comes with its share of challenges. However, with the right strategies in place, you can continue to foster a supportive work environment while ensuring that your own work and that of your team remain on track. By implementing conversation terminators, setting boundaries, and delegating tasks, you can navigate the challenges of active listening and maintain a healthy balance between employee engagement and productivity.