As a supervisor, you want to teach your staff to succeed and do good work. Too often, however, supervisors inadvertently teach their staff not to listen to them. When supervisors teach their staff not to listen to them, it can lead to frustration for the supervisor. It can also create big problems for the organization when work is not completed the way it should be. It is surprisingly easy to teach them not to listen to you, without even trying!
1. Make your staff feel unheard.
When you don’t listen to your staff, they are much more likely to not listen to you. They will listen enough to get by but that’s it. If you truly want them to hear you, you must listen to them. Not just in the moment but consistently
2. Say the same thing over and over again.
When anyone says the same thing over and over again, it is natural to tune them out after awhile. When this happens in the same conversation, it becomes a lecture. And people stop listening.
3. Do other things when you talk.
Check your phone, look through papers on your desk, write notes to yourself. When you show your staff that there are other things as important, or more important, then them, they will get the message. They will feel disrespected and will be much more likely to do the same to you.
4. Contradict yourself.
Tell them one thing and then, soon after, contradict yourself. Tell them what the top priority for their work is and then change it soon after, without acknowledging that this is a change. Or tell one thing to one staff member and tell another staff member the opposite. This will ensure that no one really listens to you because they know that the information might change in 5 minutes or 5 days.
5. Speak out of alignment with your actions.
Tell them one thing and act in a way that shows you don’t mean it. For example, give your staff a rousing speech about teamwork and then promote the staff member who is the most competitive person around. Or say you value work-life balance, and then question why a staff member didn’t respond to the text you sent at midnight.
Any of these actions will tell your staff that you are not consistent, you are not trustworthy and it would be a waste of time to listen to you.