This has always been an important topic to me. As a millennial, I have been told that I have been too invested in the emotional side of managing as well as the emotional side of the work.
To some degree, I understand the importance of being able to look at things objectively. Some decisions need to be be pragmatic in nature and that is how things go.
However, I think that empathy when it comes to working with people is vital. I think it is doubly true if you are managing people/teams or vendor relationships.
In my career, I have found that people who “loved!” working with me were people that I had taken the time to listen to and hear their grievances.
When I was a project manager, a sponsor once sent an email telling me how amazing of a job I did and how easy I am to work with. I looked back at the project and it was very basic and I feel that most people would have been able to handle with ease.
I thought back to our kick off and realized that we only spent 10 minutes talking about the project and the remaining 20 talking about her new role and how stressful it was becoming.
It did not make sense, why would someone take the time to write an email like this for something (in my mind) that was so trivial?
It hit me like a ton of bricks – me taking the time to listen to her was what made me someone great to work with. I decided to test this out with other clients and sponsors to see if this was the rule or the exception.
Over the following months, I took the time to listen to what the person wanted from the project or task and made sure to repeat it back to them. This allowed clarity and showed I listened carefully.
Here’s what happened:
- I received more compliments than I ever have
- I was told how easy I was to work with
- I was told that I “really got” my clients and sponsors
- My team said I was such a great manager to work alongside
- I heard repeatedly that “we love working with you, not only do you get the work done, we know you care about us and the company as a whole”.
It takes almost no effort to listen to someone and you might actually learn something along the way.
If you are encountering a slump with your team or company, I urge you to try to listen more. You might be surprised how much of a difference it makes in your career and as a colleague.
What are your experiences? Have something interesting to say, comment below!