HR Professionals are awesome in many ways. We do great work, for majority of us, we do it not because it’s a job, but because it is truly what we love. Unfortunately, even the greatest HR professional can have down falls, and one might be, not being able to communicate effectively.
Learning to communicate is a key skill for HR professionals, but we sometimes forget one part of communication. Listening.
It’s Monday afternoon, you’re deep in your office, catching up on what happened over the weekend. You’ve already made your rounds, talking to coworkers or being out at the field site, and then you get a knock on the door. An employee is there asking if you, “Have a minute” to discuss an issue he or she is having, and you clear off the desk and break out your notebook to.
We are listening and then we start playing out different options in our head and we stop. We start asking questions in the middle of the employees’ issue because we want to solve it or it’s something we think we’ve heard before, so we automatically know what needs to happen. STOP.
Stop trying to fix an issue before you’ve heard the entire story.
Stop tuning out because you think you already know the answer.
There is enough data to show employees won’t come to HR because they have had, or heard, a bad experience, they don’t think they can trust us or what we “plan” to do, and they don’t think we listen to their concerns.
Here is what you should do:
Allow the employee to finish everything they need to say. Take notes while you’re listening to them and then get clarity at the end. This way, you have their entire story, the one they’ve played out in their head over and over before they walked in your door. Do not go automatically on the attack, unfortunately, this can be very hard for HR, we are trained to question everything. Listen clearly to everything they are telling you, all the people they’ve named, and sometimes what they think should happen. Listen to what they are experiencing and once they are done, then start the investigation or solutions to how they can fix a problem that they might be having.
Communication in HR will be one of the keys to turning around peoples view on the HR department, if we are willing to listen completely.