At Centredexcellence both Katy and I, through our various programmes, encourage our clients to develop their listening skills. 


Because listening is a precursor to delivering great feedback, encouragement and direction, that then supports your people to be all they can be. 

What we notice as we start working with clients is that their ability to listen, process and act on what is being communicated makes a huge difference. 

Leaders must lead of course; they also need to listen to what is being said. 


The Downside Of Being A Poor Listener 

The ability to truly listen is a powerful skill. Let’s be frank it’s a challenge to work and be around people who don’t listen; even worse if it’s your manager (that’s you). 

Consistently talking over  and interrupting your recruiters, rambling on about how good you were/are or delivering that terrible phrase; “yes, but”, as you then launch into precisely what you want to say, isn’t going to help you coach and develop your people; you’ll likely lose the respect of your team too. 

In fact, one of the reasons people leave organisations is because of their relationship with their line manager. Lack of recognition and being listened to are cited as the two key reasons that a resignation letter gets written. 

However, the good news is that listening is a skill which means any of us can develop this crucial part of a recruitment leader’s toolbox. 

In this post, we want to share a few suggestions on how to improve your listening skills. 


Be Present and Use All Your Senses 

Sounds woo-woo and yet it’s quite simple. First, switch off you b**%$ phone. In fact, put it away. Show respect and interest in the team member you are with. This alone could completely change your perception with the people you lead. 

Listening means paying attention not only to the story but how it is told, the use of language, voice and body. These are all important indicators of the message someone is ‘trying’ to communicate to you. Think about how this plays out in your personal life. 

I am sure most of you reading this know if your significant other isn’t happy and they don’t even need to say anything! 

The fact is; we can’t not communicate. The look on our face, the position of our body, the tone of our voice. 

Listening isn’t the same as hearing, by the way, to effectively listen you need to use a lot more than your ears.  

Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages. 


Put People at Ease And Give Them Eye Contact 

Even if this is a situation related to their performance your team are human beings. Put them at ease, smile, nod, encourage, offer them a drink. 

Body language and how you communicate is vital too. One of the most critical aspects to this is to give people eye contact.  

This isn’t about staring them down either. So how do you maintain eye contact and demonstrate you are listening? 

We have already talked about removing your phone from the situation. In addition, if you are in a glass-fronted office make sure you have your back to the glass. Even the most experienced listener can get distracted by people wondering past the room.  

Then maintain eye contact for a minimum of 3-5 seconds then glance away and then come back. This time frame will demonstrate that you are listening and attentive without making the individual feel they are under a microscope.  


If You Were Them…. 

In the coaching world, this technique is known as second positioning, and this is something all good managers master. I explain it all in greater detail in this post here -> how to know what your recruiters are thinking. 

Fundamentally this is about stepping into their shoes to help you get an idea of what they are thinking and feeling. This is a cool technique that works amazingly well. 

Imagine yourself in their situation, wanting you to finally listen to their side of the story. As human beings, we all have a fundamental need to be heard. 

When they are speaking, try to think of where they are coming from and why. Imagine what their life is like and what struggles they might be facing. People will appreciate that you made an effort. 


Be Curious 

Remember how you used to be when you first started out as a recruiter? You listened to every word  that potential new client said. The candidates you called up got your full attention because you didn’t want to make a mistake. Take this ability back into your conversations with your billing teams and managers . Ask questions, be curious and then listen to their answers. 


Notes And Checking Questions 

It is easy to lose concentration, especially as a driven recruitment leader with little patience and another 50 things on your to-do list. 

Taking notes is a good idea to help with this. Think critical phrases rather than scribbling the verbatim conversation. This is also a significant signal to your consultant that what they have to say is important. Remember what we said earlier about eye contact. When you are taking notes, strike a balance between eye contact and notes. 

A technique is to listen and then communicate back to the individual in question form some key statements. This signals you have been listening and also enables you to be totally clear about what someone was saying. 

“ Jane, let me check I understand what you are saying?” 

“So Jane the meaning I am taking from what you are saying is  x; is this correct?” 


Finally, Make This Important 

It would be easy to brush this skill aside; I mean you are right after all aren’t you ?? Probably not. It’s easy to make a judgment without having a handle on all the facts;developing your listening skills will help you gain knowledge so you can then make an informed decision. 

Over many years Katy and I have seen owners who master this skill really scale; ready to improve yours ? 


Important Free Report To Download 

Download our latest free report on the other straightforward ways to get your underperformers back on track here. 

Warm regards 


Nicky and Katy