054: Open Doors, Open Ears?

054: Open Doors, Open Ears?

If you’ve been out in the business world for any length of time, you’ve heard someone mention that their door is always open.

The message is that if you have an idea or question or even something that’s bothering you, you can go to them and they will listen.

And I’ve known plenty of leaders at places where I’ve worked where this was legit. I knew that if I went in (and I often did) and wanted to talk, they would be receptive.

The problem in business comes when the door is open, but the ears are closed.

I wonder which is the case for you today?

Bottom line is… are you approachable?

Do your people, your team members colleagues and peers feel OK coming to you and sharing what’s on their mind?

It’s a huge question. And it’s one that people figure out the answer to pretty quickly… especially if the offer of an open door is put out there in conversation.

If it’s just a gesture that you have no interest in backing up, then you can almost make things worse than not offering at all.

I’ve known plenty of friends and coworkers who had basically just shut down because they had something to share, were offered that open door and when they went in to share it was clear that they weren’t really being listened to.

That’s a great way to drive people off.

But… on the flip side. When your door and ears are BOTH open, it can be one of the most powerful and empowering things for your business and team.

That’s because there is tremendous value and knowledge, ideas and questions, insights and thoughts bottled up inside of each of the people in your organization. With some exceptions, most people want to be there and be a valuable part of the organization.

And when the word gets out that you are someone that truly listens and will take those words to heart and seek to take action, you’ll unlock more and more of that potential inside each of your people.

So, before you go opening your door, make sure your heart and ears are there first. Then see what follows.

Thanks for listening to today’s episode. I’d love hear from you about today’s topic or just in general. You can shoot me an email at shawn@shawnwashburn.com or head to shawnwashburn.com/contact and you’ll find links to connect with me on social media as well.

020: Can You Hear Me?

020: Can You Hear Me?

Listening is one of the best skills you can develop. Being a great listener can value your team while also encouraging creativity, new thinking and new ideas. 

In episode 5 we poked a little fun at the phrase of the year: “You’re on mute”

Even just that phrase still makes me smile a little bit honestly. I can picture the mouth moving and everyone scrambling to unmute themselves so that they can tell the muted one that they are, in fact, muted.

But today we’re going to talk about some ways that we might be actually muting others around us without realizing it.

Their mouths are moving but we’re not hearing anything. We’re not listening.

To me, one of the top skills you can have as a business leader is to be a good listener. And I don’t just mean someone that people talk to. I mean, someone that really listens.

To be a good listener means that you are approachable. It means that people know that you value them and what they have to share… even if it’s hard to hear.

Being a good listener isn’t asking for an opinion and then letting your team member speak while the whole time you’re secretly holding your own answer behind your back ready to pounce it on them.

Being a good listener is being curious. Being willing to acknowledge that you might be wrong, that you might not be able to see the whole picture.

I heard a great quote from Andy Stanley years back. He said that “leaders who don’t listen will soon be surrounded by people with nothing to say.”

I remember hearing that and having to think that one through again. But it is dead on and I’ve seen it happen.

If people don’t feel like their opinions and thoughts and ideas are truly valued, then eventually they might try to find a place where they are.

And then all that will be left are people who just repeat back what has been said before.

So, if you really want to not only help your business thrive but also to bring out the best in your team members, put in the work to become a better listener.

It may take time. And if your people haven’t been used to being asked for their ideas and really listened to, it may take some time for them to trust they this time it’s different.

Maybe you could start this week and invite a few members of your team in for a meeting with no agenda other than to just hear from them. Let them know that you want to honestly hear how things are going for them, what frustrations they have, struggles, roadblocks to success. 

Ask them what ideas they have about making things better… and let them finish, even if you don’t believe they are things you can do right now. That can come later, but you’ll miss out on so many great ideas and empowering your team if you shoot down ideas from the get go or if they feel like it’s not even worth sharing.

Every person on your team is asking this same question: “Can you hear me?… do you want to hear me?”

I believe your answer is yes, because you care about each one of them…  and you also want the business to grow as well.

So un-mute your team this week and let them speak what they’ve been dying to say… unless, of course that lawnmower is still blaring in the background…