How should HR managers become good listeners?

Jackie Edwards

The profession of human resources requires people skills. Individuals working in HR management interact with a great number of people on a daily basis; they are in charge of handling employee relations, interviewing, hiring, training, payroll and benefits among a few other responsibilities. An HR manager has to know how to efficiently communicate with his/her employees if they want to contribute to the growth and smooth operation of a company. However, one should bear in mind that communication is an act that does not solely require talking but also listening.

In order to create a pleasant, functional, and prosperous working environment, an HR manager needs to understand the importance of taking the time to actually tune in and hear what the employees have to express. In other words, listening is a key factor that contributes to good communication and a healthy work milieu.

The following are a few tips that can help HR managers improve their listening skills:

  1. Pay attention to body language

Pay attention to body language

According to numerous studies, 55% of communication is body language, 38% is attributed to the tone of voice, and only 7% is the actual words spoken. This brings us to the conclusion that HR managers are highly advised to pay attention to these subtle details, as they could help them discern more efficiently what the employees are really trying to communicate.

As important as the actual words are, intonation, volume, and pace combined with facial expression and body language are also a paramount part of the speaking process. Paying attention to these nuances can also help an HR manager read between the lines and acquire extra information.

  1. Maintain eye contact

Maintain eye contact

  1. Turn off your electronic devices

Turn off your electronic devices

Furthermore, another reason why one should avoid using electronic devices during a conversation is to show respect. If your employees see that they have your full attention, you will gain their respect more easily and they won’t feel devalued.

  1. Focus on the main message

Focus on the main message

Additionally, active listening means giving the speaker room to make their point. Avoid jumping in to voice your own thoughts, as it can cause the speaker to think that the point they’re trying to make is irrelevant to you. Once the speaker is done, and is ready to receive a response from you, feel free to address the issue and give them your opinion.

  1. Make sure to avoid misunderstandings

Make sure to avoid misunderstandings

Furthermore, selective hearing is another practice an HR manager should implement to improve communication. Selective hearing is the concept that refers to paying attention to a specific source of a sound or spoken word. This listening method is a great way to avoid receiving partial messages, and encounter possible misunderstandings, as the sole focus is on the spoken word.

  1. Be patient

Be patient

Also, allowing the employees to have an extra moment after they appear to be done (in case they omitted to add something) is also another sign of patience that every good HR manager should strive towards.

And last but not least, taking time to ask back-up questions and conduct short summaries of what’s been said might also take some extra patience, but it will definitely pay off in the long run.

Overall, whether you are a manager at a small business or a huge corporation, building good interpersonal work relationships is important. One of the best ways to run a business smoothly is to practice good communication skills, and not forget the importance and power of active listening.


After taking a career sabbatical to become a mother, Jackie Edwards now writes full time on topics ranging from business and finance through to tech and IT. In her spare time, she volunteers for a number of local charities that support people with mental health issues



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