There appears to be a lot of well meaning advice on how to train someone who doesn’t listen to you to actually listen. Unfortunately, the advice is all very formulaic and I’m not sure it will work.
Having had this problem in the past, I have some degree of experience and frustration on the subject. The problem is that when you try to train someone to listen, you are trying to change their behaviour and that is a hugely complex task.
I first tried all the standard ways of getting them to listen like yelling at them, brow-beating them and stomping my feet but that just turns people off.
I have tried giving people a structured memo pad to write things down on. (I really loved the memo pad but almost no one else did and they resisted using it.)
I have tried getting employees to write down what we agreed on and send it back to me in an email. That too was pretty much a failure as who has the patience to police that type of action?
What I finally decided was that I had to marginalize and eventually get rid of people who don’t listen. You just can’t spend the time necessary to teach them.
Either people are learners who can see a problem and work to improve themselves or they aren’t. If someone is a learner, they’ll figure out what to do if you just tell them what they need to learn.
If they aren’t a learner, there is nothing you can do about it. So give up and get rid of them.
As a stubborn old mule myself I felt I could contribute here!
When a manager is delegating tasks, the employee is then faced with 2 (often) different sets of priorities:
1. Activities that meet a customer’s requirements
2. Activities that meet their manager’s requirements
Generally speaking, the higher up the totem pole the more likely you are to make the business the priority. Inversely, the lower you are on the totem pole the more likely you are to attend to the customer’s needs first.
Sometimes it is not the “listening” that is the problem. It is a failure to connect (from both sides) with the most pressing priority. Often the result is the manager takes a view that their employee is insubordinate while the employee believes that their manager fails to understand the customer. Stalemate!
One solution is the manager should avoid dictating orders without first understanding the issues their employee believes to be a priority. This would remove the rock-and-a-hard-place paradox that the employee is in: satisfy the customer or satisfy the boss.
So after the manager has identified his employee’s priorities, he can work his own into their short list, and together determine what is most important.
But then again, you’re right. Some people are never going to listen and they don’t deserve to keep their job.
Gord. Nice to hear from you again. You must have been too busy to comment or my blogs have been too boring. Good point you make about perspectives and the need to understand how they may be different.
You can always count on me to offer perspectives from “the managed.”
Love your updated website!