Effective communication is more important than ever in today’s fast-paced workplace. As a team manager, you are required to master all styles and methods of communication to effectively engage your workers, and being an attentive listener is key to building good relationships, resolving conflicts at work, and improving employee engagement.
Why temporary workers are key to your business
In a 2018 survey1, only 42% of respondent’s stated that their organisation was primarily composed of salaried employees, and that they expected to increase their number of contractors and freelancers over the next few years.
This prediction has resulted in workplaces hiring a blend of remote and flexible workers, who are made up of permanent and temporary employees working alongside each other. Within this set-up, it is important that all workers feel listened to, regardless of their employment contract status.
Hiring temporary contractors within your business makes you more adaptable to market trends or staff absences. Having such flexibility brings many benefits, such as the ability to expand or contract your headcount or skillset as required, delivering a fresh perspective or assist an overworked team.
However, temporary workers can often feel as if they are treated like second class citizens at work. As this flexible resource is so important, making them feel valued and listened to, with the same level of attention as that afforded to permanent employees, will ensure you have a happy and productive blended team.
Are you listening to your temps?
- Am I really listening to my temporary workers?
- Do I know what motivates them as individuals?
- Am I aware of what stresses may be impeding their productivity?
Why you should listen?
Being a good listener doesn’t always appear on a management role or team leader’s job description. In order for your temporary employee voices to be heard, you need to really listen to their individual needs. Leaders who listen attentively are more able to build trust and enlist loyalty from their staff.
Finding out more about each person in your team and building good professional relationships can result in many workplace improvements, including better employee engagement, reduced absenteeism and increased motivation, ultimately leading to higher productivity.
Team managers who are able to balance their desire for success and high performance with attention to temporary employee’s needs and concerns, are destined to become more effective and compassionate leaders.
The art of listening
Listening effectively can head off problems at work before they get out of control, allowing you to get to know your staff as individuals and improve knowledge sharing across your team. To become an effective listener, you will need to practice these traits:
- Make and maintain eye contact – stay focused and show that they have your full attention.
- Avoid interrupting – if the speaker slows do not interrupt, they may need time to gather their thoughts.
- Be attentive and keep your mind from wondering – remain ready to respond to any questions they might have.
- Be open-minded – try not to indulge in biased feelings and make sure you understand the full picture.
- No judgement, justifying or jumping in – listen without interrupting, jumping to conclusions or assuming you know what they’re going to say next.
- Give positive non-verbal feedback – show your understanding for their point of view by nodding and the use of appropriate facial expressions.
- Don’t offer solutions without being asked – most people will reach their own solution if you allow them to, be a sounding board until they ask you directly for your opinion.
- Stay focused on their topic or issue – do not interject with your own issues. If they go off topic, gently steer them back on track.
- Pick up on non-verbal clues – watch their expressions for signs of irritation, for example slopped shoulders and a set mouth.
When you master the art of effective listening and are addressing employee’s concerns, feedback, or suggestions, you should see improved employee engagement, a decrease in staff turnover, and better productivity, revenue growth, performance and retention.
In an interactive survey of managers2, 69% stated they often felt uncomfortable when communicating with employees and 37% said they weren’t comfortable giving direct feedback about an employee’s performance.
In order to feel comfortable with interacting with your employees, effective listening needs to be paired with clear communication and honest feedback. When working with temporary workers, who may not stay with the business long-term, yearly or even monthly reviews can be too infrequent. An on-going, always-listening process enables you to actively hear and respond to your employee in a timely manner.
Everyone listens and absorbs feedback in different ways, so, to ensure your message appeals to all types of listeners, try adapting your styles of communication to suit the individual. When giving feedback try to avoid being either passive or aggressive in your style. Do not be emotionally dishonest and self-enhancing at the expense of others, indirect, self-denying, blaming, apologetic, controlling or inappropriate. Instead aim to be assertive, appropriately honest, direct, expressive, confident and empathetic to the emotions of all those involved.
Feedback, when given with honesty and respect, can alter the way an individual performs. Giving feedback to your employees is only half of the process. In order to assess if your temporary workers feel listening to, valued and motivated at work, you should ask for constructive feedback from them. This can include a quick and easy anonymous on-line survey, feedback platforms and suggestion boxes, as well as on-going face-to-face communication.
As a line-manager, demonstrating your desire to listen, respond and improve at work should result in your workforce being more likely to be receptive and supportive of you as a leader.
In this series, we are looking to unlock the secrets behind empowering, engaging and motivating your entire workforce with the power of happiness. Although they are often under-represented within existing productivity and business development guidance, Blue Arrow believes that temporary workers are an integral part of the wider workforce driving businesses - so to find out more about how you can use happiness to improve productivity throughout your entire organisation, click here.