As a leader, you probably have many roles within your organisation, but perhaps the most important one is telling people crucial things that they need to know. You’re probably going to need to repeat yourself to be heard, but even then it’s not always easy to ensure people are listening to you.
Here are a few tips based on what the most successful leaders actually do to make sure they’re not ignored.
1) Don’t just say it once. A vital message might not reach the people it needs to reach if you only mention it once, or in one particular way. It might not even work if you say it two or three times. Never assume you’ve been heard without really knowing.
2) Choose a channel based on your listener. Some leaders are pushed for time or don’t want to learn how to use a new communication channel, even though their employees or colleagues use it all the time. If you don’t go with the flow, you might be ignored. Written communication may not be as clear as a message conveyed by phone or in person, or vice versa.
3) Consider learning styles. Most of us have heard about the different ways people tend to learn and retain information. If possible, consider this or present a range of options for people to take in and understand what you’re saying or teaching.
4) Be honest when communicating. People won’t listen to you if you clearly gloss over your own mistakes or go quiet when things haven’t panned out well. In order to be taken seriously, you should be transparent.
5) Incentivise people to take action. If people understand what they stand to gain by listening to you and following your direction, they are much more likely to do so. Sometimes the reason you’re passing on information may be obvious to you, but not to your listeners who may be busy thinking of their other priorities.
6) Let people be honest with you. If you create a situation (even inadvertently) where people feel intimidated or otherwise unable to be honest, it may seem to you that people aren’t listening to you. They might be hearing you loud and clear, but certain questions or demands can come across as if you don’t trust your employees, and this creates the same feeling the other way.
7) Don’t be hypocritical. It’s one thing to hold junior employees to different standards compared to their managers or company directors. However, it’s another to tell someone to act one way and then do something that completely contradicts that instruction. A lot of the time, people won’t do as you say, they’ll do as you do.