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HR: Take the time to listen

Take a moment to simply listen.

I could go on for days about the importance of listening but I will start here…If there is one thing I would tell my younger self it would be “Spend more time listening” Listening is a valuable skill in HR, leadership and life. Why do we do so little of it?  

Figuring this one out has been a process. My professional life would have started out a little easier had I listened more frequently. One of the first things I try to teach my team members and other leaders is to listen.  Simply listen  Listen to your team members, listen to your peers, listen to the talk at the water-cooler. Listen to the truths and the untruths. Just listen.  

Our job as HR leaders is to support the business. That is a loaded statement, for sure, but in breaking it down, listening is key.  What does the business need?  If we spend some time listening, we will learn what the business needs.

If we listen to our team members we will hear words, tones, messages, and pieces of information.  Our team members find ways to get us information that they want us to know; without coming right out and saying exactly their intent. It may be a hint, it may be a concern, it may be just a simple FYI.  Regardless of what it is, they want you to know something, so pay attention, listen.

If you are fortunate enough to work on a great team, listen to your peers.  A truly great team, wants the business, the team and you to succeed.  If they offer a suggestion, consider it. If they offer a compliment, be gracious and if they offer criticism, regardless of its format, listen to their comments.  If you do not work with a great team, find one! It makes working for a living so much more enjoyable.

Gossip: Should you listen? Yes, with awareness that it may simply be gossip. While most gossip is just that, there tends to be some level of truth to much of what we hear.  In most cases, you will be able to listen and forget but there will be times when you may get some insight as to what is going on in the business. Gossip can be dangerous (and we will talk more about that at a later time) but from time to time, you may find some insight in the shop talk.  

People sometimes just need or want to be heard. Whether people are talking just to talk, complaining just to complain or if they really have something to say, they want to be heard.  In my experience, employees simply need someone to listen.  It doesn’t matter why, it just matters that as a Human Resources leader and a co-worker and a person, you take some time to listen.  You may make a difference in someone’s day.  

You may be surprised at how many problems go away if you make the time to listen.

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