When people talk, Listen completely
Creating a home care agency culture of engagement is more about asking good questions and listening than it is telling and directing. Sure, as leaders of the business there is a time and place to give directions and tell people what to do. But to really influence them and get them engaged in your business and vision of the great home care agency you are creating you need to do more listening and asking really good questions.
“Intelligent listening is more persuasive than talking” according to Drs. Russell and Black. Ever go to an event and admire the one person in the room that seems to be able to get anyone to talk and light up. They seem to have this natural way to guide the conversation by listening to the other person and then asking specific questions that move the conversation toward a direction they want to go. These people have mastered the art of listening.
To be a good listener you must be active and stay involved when engaging your care team. It is sort of a paradox; you need to be active, but yet be patient when your staff is sharing things with you. You can’t let you mind wander to other things about the business or how you are going to fill that next shift. Stay in the moment, stay focused on your team. “Listening demonstrates genuine interest” according to Dr. Nichols, “Listening is a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.” Says Dr. Tanner. When they feel valued they are more engaged in your business and more satisfied with their roles. If they are more engaged and satisfied they are more likely to stay in your business reducing the overall problem of retention.
Steps to Changing
He are a few steps to steps to get you on the path of being a better listener and having a higher level of engagement of your team.
- Are you “telling” or are your listening? Keep a mental note of how much every day you are telling your team what to do over the next week. At the end of each day, reflect on opportunities you missed to engage your care team and staff. Think through the opportunities you may have missed to engage each of your employees.
- Are you actively listening? Really focus on the things your team are sharing with you. Try to put yourself in their shoes and see it from their side. Slow down and focus on them and what they are saying.
- Share the vision and the outcomes you are trying to achieve?Oftentimes, we as business leaders spend lots of time directing and telling in fear of not hitting our goals. Instead, spend more time talking about the outcome you want to achieve with the team. Ask your team if they understand the expectations around outcomes.
- Ask good questions. Your questions should be short and open ended to get them talking. Remember we are trying to get the team better engaged. Have three or four questions that open the conversation. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- What’s going well in your role?
- Any wins (big or small) this week?
- How can I be of help to you?
- What can we do to make you more successful?
- What is going to be most difficult part of the role?
- What’s most important for us to talk through?
- What challenges are you facing?
- How are you feeling?
Home care agencies are built around their care teams. The more we engage our team, ask good questions and truly listen to what they have to say the strong our teams will be and the more likely they are going to be engaged. This will lead to better care, less turnover and better outcomes.