If Employees Aren’t Listening, Reflect on Leadership

Worried that people who should be listening to me, aren’t listening to me. Think about my employees, and ask myself, “If they’re not going to listen to their boss, who are they going to listen to?” How can I keep from getting pushed out of the way?

Thoughts of the Day: Take a look around you. Make time to think about what you want, and whether the habits of communicating are getting you there. Figure out how you can get better at communicating. Lower your perception of the consequences if things go wrong. Think before you speak. Plant seeds.

Is it really just you who’s being ignored, or are others having the same problem? Is it all employees, or just some? Is it the same employee over and over, or different employees at different times? Is it all the time, or just some of the time?

Figure out the conditions under which you observe that you aren’t being heard. Compare that to your observations about what others experience under similar conditions. Do a reality check on who, when, what, and how people go their own way without dialing in to you.

Then ask some questions. Are they attempting to spread their wings, trying to fly solo with new skills they’ve acquired? Are they repeating a habitual way of behaving with you – as in, they always dial you out? Or is it somewhere in between?

Now do a reality check. What happens if specific people do or don’t listen to you? Do they get better results with, or without your input? Or do they come out about the same either way? Do they get enough value from your input that they can achieve higher level outcomes? Are you making requests that make their life easier or harder? Try looking at it from the receiver’s viewpoint.

Time for a bit of self-reflection. How do you come across as a leader? Are you positively motivated, and are you positively motivating the people around you? Can you inspire confidence?

Think about this. If you’re not ready to empower yourself to achieve success, how will you impart that to others? On the other hand, if you’re leading and no one is following, why is the whole group following a different path? What is it about how you’re coming across?

Can you take as good as you dish it out? If someone isn’t listening to you, ask them why. But be prepared to hear some things that might make you uncomfortable. Listen without defense in order to learn.

What in your style of presentation is irritating people or pushing them away. It often comes down to what you say and how you say it. Is it all about getting what you want? What gets in the way of perceiving or responding to what the person across from you needs?

Negative approaches tend to generate negative responses, and vice versa for positive ones. Keep doom and gloom to a minimum – it’s neither inspiring nor motivating. Instead, search for purpose. Put people on a mission.

Give people a visual of how things might turn out. Make sure it’s one that they’d actually want to achieve. Make it something worth having, something worth reaching for, from theirs, not your, point of view. To do that, you’re actually going to have to invest some time figuring out where the other person is coming from.

Remind yourself that it takes a village to build well rounded solutions. Plant seeds. Ask for small changes. Encourage behaviors you want to see continue by saying, “thank you, I appreciate that.” Talk honestly about problems, but also build people up by showing them how changes they are making lead to a better world. Take time out to celebrate wins – more than the time spent moaning over losses – a lot more.

Looking for a good book? Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek.


Keeping Candidates Engaged in the Hiring Process

We’re looking to add to our staff, and we want to make sure we have the right person for the job. We’ve had a couple people who we liked, and when we got back to them they’d already taken other offers. Any suggestions on how to best manage the hiring process?

Thoughts of the Day: Hire candidates to meet short and long term needs. Know that the job market is tightening and people have more options. The best candidates know they want your company. Building a list of future candidates to keep track of and a way to keep in touch with them will help in the future.

Hire the right candidate by understanding the job you’re filling. Model job descriptions around people who have been successful in the past. Be ready to jump on candidates who demonstrate ambition, drive and commitment to grow skills your company will need in the future.

As unemployment drops it does get tougher to identify and hang onto good candidates. Companies compete to offer opportunity for growth, income and benefits. Positioning your company as a good employer with a bright future becomes a competitive leverage in the candidate search.

Find hidden gems by looking for people who are already employed, doing similar work. Use networking conversations to find people who are ready for a change of scenery. Continuously ask for referrals to people who are good at what they do and looking for a chance to grow.

Know that candidates are likely to get more offers, faster. Shorten your time between interactions. Candidates make assumptions. Too much time goes by, they assume the company isn’t interested, and they move on to pursue other leads.

Send out an immediate response when a resume comes in. Invite the person to share more information about themselves and what they’re looking for. Be friendly and look for candidates who are interested enough to communicate.

Tell candidates what steps to expect in the interview process. Provide regular updates on what comes next. Let candidates know where they stand and when they should hear back. Be predictable in order to build trust.

In the first interview give out details about the job. Include not just the tasks, but also the hours, the pay, the opportunity for growth. Remind candidates that it’s a process to get through interviews, and you would only continue talking with them if you were serious about them.

If candidates look good, tell them that. Reassure top candidates that the job could be theirs. You may even tell really strong candidates to get back to you before seriously looking at other offers.

Stay in touch by providing informational updates on the company. Build stickiness by introducing strong candidates to people they could be working with. Encourage questions. Watch what candidates do with the openings you provide. See who goes above and beyond at showing interest in your company.

Plan out who your company will need to hire in the future. Will you grow people from the bottom up? That’s often the easiest and most affordable way to grow talent. If so, you’re going to need a steady stream of people coming in at the entry level.

Figure out where the next class of employees could come from and build connections to those resources. Often that’s recent grads who are looking to get started. Target a list of schools teaching the skills your company needs.

Know you’re going to need a particular piece of expertise that doesn’t exist in the company today? Many employers will start with an independent contractor of consulting company to learn more without paying for someone to be on board full time. It’s often the fastest was to get started. And some of those suppliers may be interested in full time employment down the road, others may know where to find full time candidates when you’re ready.

Looking for a good book? Building a Magnetic Culture, How to Attract and Retain Top Talent to Create an Engaged, Productive Workforce, by Kevin Sheridan.