Listen to “Problems”

I have a client who is the General Manager for a mid-sized corporation.  Her direct reports are 15 division managers.  We were talking about how best to run her manager meetings.  During the conversation, she noted that her managers seem to want to make her happy.  As a result, in meetings, the conversations do not seem genuine because the managers either paint a bright picture for her, or are quiet when she asks how things are going.  She said to me, “I think they believe that I only want to hear a certain type of answer.”  I said, “Is there any chance you are giving the impression that you don’t want to hear the ‘problems’?”  She said “yes”.  “Why is that?”  She said, “If I hear the problems, then I have to fix them and that is a lot of work for me.”

We had been working with the REALITY model of enrollment and how to enroll her managers in doing their jobs well.  What she realized is that she had unconsciously been conveying to them that she did not want to hear any kind of problems.  But when she realized this she saw that she could not enroll them in helping her run the company well unless she listened to everything they had to say even if she didn’t really want to hear it.

Her learning, and I think it is pertinent for many company managers, is that when “problems” arise, the very first thing we must do is simply LISTEN.  Then reflect back what we hear.  Ask curious questions.  LISTEN again.  Do not try to solve people’s problems before you fully understand them.  And often, if you listen closely in this fashion, they will solve the problems themselves.  If not, you have the opportunity to enroll them in solving their problems.  When you see there is a problem, do not avoid it.  Show people you are eager to hear what they have to say.  And then really hear them.

About the Author

Picture of Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching professionals and leaders since early 2008. She runs Transformative Coaching Essentials, a coach training program that produces first rate Professional Coaches and "Coach-Style Leaders." She coaches individually and works with organizations to improve communication, time management, productivity and ultimately bring greater results.

Get Our Newsletter
Recent Posts

Thoughts and Feelings

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James This is a lesson I learn over and over again. We have choice in what we decide to think about. Is this a radical notion to you? Or just...

Read More
Ranger Kielak

Coach Highlight – Ranger Kielak

CM: Why did you enter TCE? And/or, what did you want to get out of it? RK: I entered TCE because I saw how valuable it was to be coached by a current student in the course. I saw my relationship improve, my mindset shift...

Read More
McLaren Coaching | Take A Break

Take A Break

I love this quote by Annie Lamott. Not just because I love Annie Lamott so much, but also because it’s just so true. When my printer doesn’t work, I unplug it. When my zoom doesn’t work, I log out and back in. This works 90%...

Read More

Coach Highlight – Sylvia Fox

CM: Why did you enter TCE? And/or, what did you want to get out of it? SF: I made the decision to join TCE to learn more about myself and show up differently in my relationships, especially with my family. I knew two friends who...

Read More

Share this Post