Saturday, June 29, 2013

Are You Really Listening, Or Just Taking Turns?

Communication is critical when you're a startup.  Things usually begin well; the founders are old friends or colleagues, and already know how to work together.

Eventually, however, you reach a point where you've expanded the team, and need the ability to get people on the same page.

In my experience, the same passion and determination that makes entrepreneurs successful can sometimes get in the way of good listening.

When an employee brings up an issue with a founder, a common response I see a lot is that the founder attempts to persuade the employee to that founder's point of view via a combination of passionate rhetoric and appeals to the need for speed.

The problem with this approach is that it treats the employee's issue as a speed bump or obstacle, not as an opportunity to learn something about the team.

When people bear bad news, do you really listen?  In other words, do you make the effort to understand what they're saying (and not saying) and consider things that might require you to change your worldview?

Sadly, most people view conversation as a matter of taking turns.  "I need to let him have his say, then I'll make my points."  Rather than listening, you spend the time the interlocutor is speaking to assemble your own arguments in your head.

Take the time and make the effort to really listen.  Not only will it improve your relationship with your employees, you'll probably learn something too.

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