Few things can be as frustrating as a leader than to feel like your words are falling on deaf ears. No matter how many times you repeat yourself, and in how many different ways you try to share information, it can feel like your employees simply do not care about what you have to say. While it’s inevitable that you may encounter your share of sluggish employees, if you’re feeling like the entire team is completely tuning you out, the problem may be a bit more personal than you think.
Before you turn up the volume and go from speaking to shouting in order to be heard, it’s a good idea to take a look at your motives and impact as a leader first. You may unknowingly be the cause of your own frustration!
You’re All About You
You may have accepted the leadership position with your personal career goals in mind, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping your eyes on the prize. Everyone strives for personal success within their roles on any team. But it’s important to make sure that your personal goals don’t overshadow the needs of the team.
Whether you like it or not, your role as a leader requires you to keep focused on what is best for the whole team and company, and not just what is beneficial to your personal career. If your employees sense that you are just looking out for yourself – and they will – they will have no interest in listening to you because they’ll know you don’t support them. Additionally, if you’re looking to move up the company ladder quickly, your employees will likely not bother building a connection with you. It’s hard to build a relationship with someone who has one foot out the door.
Focus more on the relationships you can and should build with each member of your team and keep their best interests in mind as you make plans for the team. Successful businesses are built on strong working relationships and you cannot build a strong relationship if you are only thinking of yourself.
You Aren’t Listening
Effective communication goes two ways. It requires not just articulating your thoughts clearly but also listening intently. Many managers forget that listening is just as important as speaking when communicating with their employees.
If you want your employees to listen, demonstrate what good listening looks like. Ask their opinions and include them in important discussions. When they share their thoughts, let them know they were heard by repeating their words back to them and demonstrating respect. Show them in your actions that you’ve heard their concerns by making changes that address the issues they’ve communicated. It may seem like a simple, common-sense solution, but it is a very common issue in the workplace. The breakdown of communication, and the resolution of that break down, begins and ends with you. Listen more and your employees will follow suit.
You’re Piling on the Pressure
Another very simple reason your employees may be tuning you out is because they are simply too stressed to listen anymore. If they are working in an environment that is high-pressure and full of tension, it is very easy to reach a breaking point.
One common way you can add unnecessary stress to your employees’ work lives is by focusing too heavily on the metrics. Doing so creates tension by making your team feel like they are nothing more than a number to you. If you are constantly drilling into their heads the idea that they are lackluster employees if they don’t produce a specific number in your metrics can cause them to tune you out in order to focus on their work.
Release tension in the office by focusing more on rewarding positive behavior and addressing negative behavior appropriately. Highlight the behavior that is impacting company growth in a positive way and ease up on the metrics talk. Your employees will feel valued, respected and open to your instructions and suggestions because they will see positive results.
Sometimes being a great leader requires you to take a long, hard look in the mirror and recognize your own faults before you point a finger at your employees. If your employees are consistently not listening to your instructions, it signifies a major break down in communication. It’s your job to lead the way to more effective and inclusive conversations that go both ways. Doing so will create an atmosphere that is more conducive to productivity and will lead your team to success.