Going back to school after years in upper management, I was completely prepared to learn from my … 19 year old classmates? Well, no. I certainly didn’t expect to learn from anyone, but my professors. If you have ever sat in a class with inexperienced business students explaining their philosophies on business (and life), you may remember rolling your eyes, looking at your watch impatiently or looking for the nearest exit. It is easy to write off the ideas of others, when you feel your experience is more relevant to the task at hand. Listening to their opinions admittedly was like nails on the chalkboard ... at first. My professor, Jim Van Vleck, was observant and recognized my exasperation as well as my loud sighs of frustration (now you see what type of student he was dealing with). Thankfully, he taught me humility, patience and the listening skills needed to be an effective manager. Listening became the cornerstone of my management profile and subsequently as an educator, coalition leader and currently as a director. I learned that even when I didn’t agree with an opinion, I was to search for the lesson. It became a scientific study. Why do they have this opinion, where did it come from and what are their values and incentives? There is always something to learn. It became easier to listen when I stopped thinking I knew more and started admitting that my ideas were merely “my truth,” specific to me and my experiences. Even more important is practicing self-awareness. Is your behavior appropriate? Do you blow up and yell? No one listens to a boss that yells. Their brain immediately shuts down to protect itself. Whatever you are trying to communicate gets lost in their hurt feelings or anger. The other extreme of ineffective communication is vagueness. Vague orders without timelines, due dates or project support leave employees feeling confused and frustrated. It’s a good idea to check-in often, with the employee and yourself. Remember to ask yourself, “am I reacting emotionally or acting as a leader?” Leaders are most effective when they are in tune with employee incentive. Understanding your employee’s value based incentive to produce is key to increasing your bottom line. Larger companies like Google have been using this management style for years. You’re probably thinking, “I have no clue what my employee’s personal incentives are.” Well, you should probably ask (professionally of course). Use your 90-day and annual reviews to acquire this information. What will encourage better productivity? Do they need schedule flexibility, vocal acknowledgment or even less micro-management? I am most encouraged when I know my efforts have been recognized. The happier your staff is, the more productive they will be. Leadership is a relationship. Listen to your staff and they will listen to you.
Martha Lucia Marin
Martha is a Colombian native raised in L.A. and South Florida where she received a B.A. in Business Management from the University of North FL. She brings us a unique set of skills acquired from many years of for-profit management and a deep dedication to human rights. As a Program Coordinator for the Women's Center of Jacksonville and FL Dept. of Health, she taught thousands of students on topics related to the prevention of sexual assault including cyber bullying, LGBTQ/sexual harassment, and teen dating violence as well as human trafficking. Martha is a public speaker, consultant and professional trainer. Most recently she served as the Chair of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition. Her international projects include a large-scale bi-lingual internship for the USAID Scholarship for Economic Education and Development at FL State College at Jacksonville. Martha first identified the lack of services for male survivors while teaching at a correctional facility. The need was overwhelming. In response she developed the life skills and healing curriculum, "YOU ARE WORTHY"! Martha Lucia Marin Community Education, Outreach & Awareness Director 1in6.org