Listening in anticipation of what an employee will say is another habit to break. Listening in anticipation encourages interruptions. All people want to be acknowledged and don’t wish to feel that you know what’s about to be said. Interrupting is an indication that you don’t care about hearing the other person’s viewpoint as much as your own.
An employer who listens well acknowledges his employees’ feelings and opinions. Yes, “zipping the lip” is extremely difficult for most self-storage owners, but it’s the surest way to improve communication and build trust. Remember, no great insight ever enters the mind through an open mouth. It’s important to let people know that you’re willing to listen, even though it may not result in agreement.
A simple “Talk to me about it” is an effective start to dialogue. Just use the most effective sales principle: Inquiry precedes advocacy. In other words, listen before you talk. When you feel a temptation to interrupt, redirect that impulse by thinking of the following question: “Will I be more effective if I listen first?”
Many people often say, “If I want something done right, I have to do it myself.” Yet effective self-storage owners know that delegation of tasks is essential for building trust in the workplace. When you hold onto tasks and don’t delegate, you deprive your managers of an opportunity to advance their skills. Accept the fact that growth comes through struggle. Babying your employees hinders their professional development and implies you don’t have faith in them. Focus on treating your staff as if they are who, how and what you would like them to be. Treating people as if they are responsible and empowered increases their chances of becoming so.
Once the employee completes a task, the objective should be to focus on progress rather than perfection. If the person’s result doesn’t meet your expectations, you can still find something positive to comment on while helping the employee understand the initial expectations. This is far more effective than comments that foster guilt or a sense of failure. A positive approach prompts an incentive for the task—in contrast to criticizing, which provides a disincentive.
Remember: There isn’t any empowerment more effective than self-empowerment. Because being positive is so enabling, it’s best to displace thoughts and communications that are destructive. Continually ask yourself how what you want to communicate can be put in a positive way. For example, saying, “You are bad tempered,” has the same meaning as, “You need to work on controlling your temper.” However, the first labels the person, whereas the second enables the person.
People change more by building on their strengths and aptitudes than by working on their weaknesses. This doesn’t mean that an area of weakness should not be worked on, but it does mean an owner’s emphasis should be on what the manager can do, rather than on what the manager cannot do. The simple belief that something can be done is the spark that ignites the brain to act.
Without trust in the workplace, communication and teamwork will erode. Additionally, morale will decrease while turnover will rise. However, by using these three strategies you can build your employees’ trust in management, thereby making their workplace an environment filled with innovation, creativity and, ultimately, higher profit for all.
Dr. Marvin Marshall, an educator, writer and lecturer, is widely known for his programs on discipline and learning. His approach stemmed from acquiring knowledge about youth as a parent; a recreation director and camp counselor; a classroom teacher and school counselor; an elementary and high school principal; district director of education; and as a certificate holder from the William Glasser Institute. For more information, visit www.marvinmarshall.com .