Let’s face it, successful vendors tend to be characterized by their strong opinions, decisive action, and gung-ho attitude. These are important traits, but it’s equally important for food truck owners to listen to their employees. Perhaps the most powerful of all leadership techniques for motivating your food truck employees is active listening.
Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. Learning to practice your listening skills until it becomes a habit can do more to improve your relationships with your staff than perhaps any other single behavior. Yet many of the food truck owners I’ve gotten to know struggle to do this, primarily because they’ve become more accustomed to speaking than listening.
Most employees say they want their voices to be heard, what they are really saying is that they want owners who will not just hear them, but really listen to them. Food truck owners who use active listening are able to create trusting relationships that build employee loyalty.
5 Steps To Improve Your Active Listening
- Listen Attentively. Listen without interruptions. Lean forward, face the person speaking directly, nod, smile and be agreeable. When you nod and smile, you encourage them to keep speaking and to expand on their remarks.
- Keep An Open Mind. Listen without judging the and listen without jumping to conclusions. Remember that the speaker is using language to represent the thoughts and feelings inside their head. You don’t know what those thoughts and feelings are and the only way you’ll find out is by listening.
- Pause Before Replying. Make it a habit to pause for three to five seconds before replying. In this three to five second pause, or longer if warranted, you get three benefits: 1) You avoid the risk of interrupting the speaker; 2) You show the speaker that you are carefully considering what they have just said; 3) You actually get more of the actual message that is being sent.
- Question For Clarification. Instead of jumping in with your own ideas or opinions, pause, take a deep breath and ask a question such as “What do you mean?” or “What do you mean exactly?” By using active listening skills, you build trust.
- Repeat Back In Your Own Words. When you can briefly summarize what others have just said, in your own words, and repeat it back to them, that you tell them that you were genuinely listening. When you thoughtfully repeat what they just said, and they agree, you show them that you were really listening.
Start using active listening techniques today!!!
By jumping in and becoming an active listener you will become a better communicator, improve your food truck productivity, and develop better relationships with your employees.
The Bottom Line
It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are often hard to break, and if your listening skills are as bad as many vendors are, then you’ve got some work to do. Once you can do use active listening with every one of your food truck employees, you will make a huge leap forward in becoming an outstanding leader and manager and get increasingly better results from every person who works for you.