Encourage Dialogue With Employees
Being a good nonprofit manager means having to deal with a diverse group of employees. It also means having an open mind.
It is human nature to want a viewpoint that you originated to be accepted, but that's just not the way a workplace is designed. People have different opinions and it's important to let them be heard. In their book "The Big Book of HR," Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem wrote that allowing employees to state their point of view without becoming defensive is a key to a successfullywork environment.
Yet you can't just listen without taking any action. If your workers don't think you will actually act on their suggestions, they will likely not make any. Mitchell and Gamlem wrote that to encourage dialogue, you must practice active listening. This means you must:
- Listen to learn. Be interested and show it.
- Seek understanding. Listen to words and clarify understanding.
- Turn off your listening filters. Don't allow yourself to think of anything except what the speaker is saying.
- Be patient. Don't interrupt during the employee's explanation.
- Withholdjudgmentuntil you have all the facts.
- Focus on content as well as delivery.
- Pay attention to non-verbal signals.
- Recognize that listening is not waiting for your turn to talk.
- Resist the urge to formulate a response until after the speaker is finished.
- Listen with compassion. Be aware of your tone of voice and body language.
- Listen for feelings as well as facts.
- Listen for what is not said, and use the opportunity to probe for more information.
- Listen for what you don't want to hear as well as what you do want to hear.
- Listen long enough to understandwhat the person is telling you.