4 Ways to Give Feedback & Listen to be a Better Leader

By Michael Heller

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End of year reviews means now more than ever, it's time to whip out your hyper-focused leadership skills, providing feedback, and listening to your team. As the need for attention, support, and communication you need to remain mindful as a leader. This creates relationships and connections with your employees that may otherwise have suffered. But, why is this important?

Well, supportive relationships can help employees stay engaged. Studies have even shown that those who are recognized and provided some form of relationship are proven to be 77% more engaged and 81% feel more valued within the company.

So, what can you do to improve your own leadership methods for the sake of your employees? Below are 4 ways to get started:

Be Empathetic

As a leader, it’s important to understand your employees and their struggles. Especially in high-strung workplace environments where stress and the normal pains of everyday life can weight-down on your team. Recognize when someone is having a bad day and be understanding that sometimes performance can suffer. Obviously, this doesn’t mean to let their lack of productivity slide. Instead, provide reassurance and lend a listening ear for those who may need it. Let them know that you are aware of any changes or setbacks and will be there to help if they need it. In fact, a study featured on ScienceNordic found humble leaders who have increased self-awareness and insight experience greater commitment and performance from their employees.

Be Engaging

Besides showing that you care and are supportive of your team, you need to actually exert yourself to engage with them — even if it’s just over morning coffee in the break room. When employees come to you with concerns, ideas, or questions ask them to expand on their thoughts and ensure that there is a full understanding of what they need or want. It is equally important to not only understand, but also follow-up and be responsible for what they are asking or concerned about. This means they will know you are indeed listening, and interested in what they have to say. Creating this type of relationship is important considering that companies with engaged employees generate 2.5x the revenue than those companies with low engagement levels.

Be Focused

When listening, giving feedback, or even just interacting with your team you need to stay focused and let those talking have the floor. If you’ve worked your way up to the management position you hold, you may be familiar with others interrupting your thoughts and ideas without fully hearing you out. This is what you want to avoid. Embrace true two-way communication, and know that when you interrupt you are creating a disengaging environment. Stay focused, stay in the moment, and be a compassionate leader.

Be Supportive

This means not just in listening and understanding, but with feedback as well. Don’t be negative to someone who is attempting to grow and develop within their position and career. Instead, take the time to mentor them and recognize any areas they may need help in. The truth is, 57% of employees appreciate corrective feedback. So, it’s not that your employees don’t want it, but it’s how you give it to them. Be that supportive leader who offers up ways to improve to practice certain skills they are struggling with instead of fully criticizing and undermining their efforts.

Being a great leader doesn’t just stop with these four tips. It’s a full-time job where you are constantly working to become better as a way to help your company and your employees.

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