Developing better listening skills is an excellent way to improve your communication skills as a supervisor, and using those critical listening skills effectively will help improve the performance of your employees.

How would your employees feel if you met with them regularly one-on-one, for only 15 or 20 minutes at a time, and asked them three or four critical questions? And what if you used your own active listening skills to process their answers?

Those questions to ask? Here they are:

What’s gone well for you since we last met?

What has gone less well than you would have liked? (and maybe what would you like to be able to do about that…)

What do you have coming up in the next week or so that will impact your work?

What can I do as your supervisor to help you do a better job?

Use your active listening skills as you ask these questions. Make eye contact, lean forward a bit, and verify that you’ve understood what the other person has said.

How regularly you meet with your people one-on-one is certainly dependent upon how many people you have reporting to you. If possible, work up to a schedule that makes sense for your situation. Ideally, you’d meet with people every week for 15 minutes, but twice a month may be more realistic.

All too often we have only annual review meetings and too many opportunities to help improve performance—both your employees’ and your organization’s—fall by the wayside for lack of attention and continuity.

Using this one technique will have multiple beneficial side effects!