Don’t want to hear what they have to say? Think you can’t learn from employees? Well listen up! One of the most common traits of a poor leader is the unillingness to listen to those around him/her. From your employees, to your customers, to your competition and even your mentors, everyone with whom you engage can bring valuable insight to your role as leader in your company.
So what can we learn from employees? Maybe faster ways to accomplish tasks; maybe more efficient equipment we don’t know about; maybe new opportunities for business.
Customer thoughts are important too! When was the last time you picked up the phone to speak to a customer about what you could do differently to make their experience with you better? How about an in person visit to find out what they really think about your business. And when they complain; do we see that as an opportunity for improvement in systems or do we pooh pooh it as words from a “complainer” so we don’t pay attention.
Our competition bears watching, not copying, but watching. Don’t get so caught up in your own ideas that you never hear what is going on around you. You can learn what you can do to improve when you open your ears and mind to the businesses near you.
Mentors can provide a grounded perspective because they are not emotionally involved in your business. No good leader ever stops learning and listening to those with more experience. If you don’t have a mentor, now is the time to get started with one.
Take the time to interact with employees and when you do, be sure to ask about their lives, families and LISTEN to what they say. The rewards you reap will be worth the time it takes to listen. LISTEN when a customer complains about something you view as insignificant and keep an open mind about it. Is it really a “pesky” complaint? What could you change in your processes to make the customer experience better and more memorable. After all, we are selling a service and without fans raving about what we do for them, we have little upon which to build.