IT Manager Do You Know How To Be An Active Listener?

The ability to be an active listener is part of being a great IT manager
The ability to be an active listener is part of being a great IT manager
Image Credit

The one thing that the members of your team want from you more than anything else is simply for you to listen to what they have to say. As simple as this sounds (listening is a part of everybody’s set of IT manager skills, right?), it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. What they really want you to do is to be an active listener and to participate in a conversation with them. Do you know how to do this?

What It Means To Be An Active Listener

So it turns out that when you’re having a conversation with a member of your IT team, you shouldn’t be talking. Instead, what you’d like to have happen is for them to do most of the talking. This means that you need to encourage them to talk. Was how to do this ever covered in any of your IT manager training?

When they pause, or turn the conversation over to you, you need to use this opportunity to not take over the conversation. Instead, use this opportunity to clearly communicate to the other person that you are interested in what they have to say. There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this, but maintaining good eye contact is one way as is nodding your head at the right times during the conversation.

One of the biggest problems that IT managers have during any conversation with a team member is that you can think faster than they can talk. This means that your thoughts may wander off while they are talking. You need to be aware of this and you need to work to stay focused on the conversation that is happening right now.

The Power Of Restating

Just because you are participating in a conversation does not mean that you are fully engaged in it. The team member that you are talking with will be looking to you in order to get feedback that you truly are listening to what they are saying. This means that you need to come up with effective ways to communicate that you are hearing what they are telling you.

A powerful way to show that you are actively listening to what the other person is saying is to practice the art of restating. Restating occurs when you tell the other person what you think that you’ve heard them say. Doing this shows the other person that you place a value on what they are saying.

Restating provides two specific benefits to a conversation. The first is that it proves to the other person that you are truly engaged in the conversation. Secondly, by restating what you think that you’ve heard, you give the other person another opportunity to make sure that their message was accurately communicated.

What All Of This Means For You

As IT leaders we have the responsibility to build the best team possible (using our IT team building skills), keep it together, and maximize its productivity. None of these tasks is easy to do and we’re always looking for the magical “silver bullet” that will allow us to accomplish all three of these tasks. It turns out that we’ve had what we’ve been looking for all along: we just need to listen to what our team is trying to tell us.

The ability to be a good listener is a learned skill. What we need to do is to become an active listener. This means that we can concentrate on what our team members are trying to tell us and we can stay in the moment and prevent our thoughts from wandering. If we use the simple technique of restating what has been told to us, we’ll win the admiration of our team members and they’ll feel as though they have been listened to.

As simple as it may seem, becoming a good active listener is going to require work on your part. The benefit is that this is a simple way to connect better with your team. Take the time to become a good listener and watch as your team starts to tell everyone what a great IT manager you are!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How important do you thing eye contact is when you are listening to someone?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Your time is valuable. It turns out that the time of the people that you report to is also valuable. A big part of the job of being an IT manager is both having conversations with your staff and you having conversations with your management. In both cases every conversation will come to an end. You need to have the IT manager skills to be sensitive enough to pick up on the signals that your boss is sending to you tell you that it’s over and you need to know how to send the same message to your team.