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Advice for Managers: Listen to Your Best People

Advice for Managers: Listen to Your Best People

Which members of your team do you spend the most time with?  If you are the manager, then the natural thing to do is to delegate tasks to the best people and let them get on with the job.  This then frees you to spend more time with the poorer performers who need the most help and support.  This might be the obvious approach, but it can also be the wrong approach.

How would you feel if you went in to work tomorrow and your very best employee came in to see you with her resignation, and when you ask why, she says, “I have accepted a senior position at another company.  I liked the work here but I never felt appreciated or involved in decision-making.  It was good that I could get on with my job, but no-one asked me my opinion on strategic issues for the department or the company.” You try telling her how much you value her contribution, but by now it’s too late; her mind is made up.  Top performers want to the freedom to get on with the job.  They do not need to be micro-managed—in fact, they resent it—but that does not mean they should be ignored or taken for granted.

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Empowering

Empowering your best people is important.  You should delegate responsibility and give them the freedom to accomplish their tasks, but don’t ignore them.  Meet them regularly to discuss their progress, their ideas, their issues and their plans, and use your managerial authority to help overcome the difficulties that are impeding them from achieving even more. You could share some of the bigger departmental challenges with them and ask their input; ask their opinions and involve them in key decisions.  Above all, you should praise them when they do well, let them know how important they are to you, and how much you value their contribution to the team.

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Devote time for junior members

You have to spend time with the junior members and weaker performers of your team; they need coaching and support, but don’t let this get out of hand.  Devote time and support to a poor performer, agree on an improvement plan with them, and monitor their progress.  Discuss the plan and their performance with your HR manager, and if they fail to improve or consistently under-perform, then they should go.  You cannot afford to have them draining your time and pulling down the team’s performance.

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Balance

Aim for a balanced approach.  Spend time with every member of the team, getting to know their interests, frustrations, ambitions and job –related issues.  A good manager understands their team both as a group, and as individuals.  Every employee has different motivations, likes, dislikes, hopes and fears, and as a manager, you should know what motivates every person in your office.  Why do they come to work?  Every individual wants to be listened to and appreciated.

Listening

Most managers spend too much time telling and too little time listening.  They focus too much on their weakest subordinates without a clear plan for improvement.  They could get much more done with their team by listening more, fixing the things that hold people back and praising people for good performance.  Praise and encouragement are great things for weaker staff when they make improvements, but they are also important for the top performers who can often feel taken for granted and unappreciated.  Make sure that your best people know how much you value them.

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Paul Sloane

Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in our craft, we cannot excel in our chosen careers or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation.

But content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

But it all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts.

Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However. I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

There are several types of learning styles known to mankind. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

The four most popular types of learning styles are:

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  • Visual learning style (what this article talks about).
  • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information presented).
  • Verbal or linguistic learning style (learning that involves speech and writing).
  • Tactile learning style (learning by touching and doing)

But for the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning to boost your career or business.

How to Know If You’re a Visual Learner?

When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

I’m talking about preferring to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. I’m talking about discovering that you actually have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

However, visual learning in particular CAN 10x your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not. And here’s why:

Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[1]

While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e learning about the human DNA).

Visual learning does use a different part of the brain and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

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By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

How to Use Visual Learning for Success

Here’re 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

1. Bring back the to-do list. Then add shapes and colors to boost productivity.

We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. But written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and boosts aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

2. Add graphs, charts and symbols to your reports.

Yes, it seems like more work cut out for you. However, graphs enable you monitor the heartbeat of your business.

Graphs and charts help you trend your finances, budget, and pretty much any data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and in a matter of seconds, have relevant information displayed in different shapes and images.

As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

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And when broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

3. Effectively brainstorm with mind-mapping.

Mind-mapping is not new but I don’t think it’s been talked about as often as we do to-do lists.

With mind mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole.

Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

4. Add video streaming to meetings.

What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation at the same time?

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When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories into images in our minds.

For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance during if people can see their colleagues in addition to flash animation or whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

Is Visual Learning Better Than Other Learning Styles?

No, that is not the point. The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

You might discover that understanding scientific concepts are much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

More About Learning Styles

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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