Money talks

Don’t talk, listen

Many managers will tell you that they talk to employees, but
Villar notes there is a difference between just asking an
employee how he or she is doing and actually getting some
depth to the conversation. For example, whenever someone
brings up even a small issue, he treats it like a conversation
with an old friend instead of with a subordinate.

“Try to get personal when you know somebody has a problem
and ask people about it, listen to people,” he says. “That’s very
important in life and in the workplace. It’s the same as what you
do in other parts of your life, you need to be receptive to people and make people feel important and that they matter to

The key part to that is listening. It’s ingrained in most leaders

to step in and try to fix the problem right away, but Villar says
you have to really absorb what the person is saying and be
clear about why he or she has come to you.

“I listen to what they have to say,” he says. “There’s a tendency,
and we all have it and you have to be aware of it, and that is to
anticipate what people are going to say and make your comments before they finish. It’s important to hear people out. Make
sure you understand what it is that they’re trying to tell you
because sometimes people start not really talking about what
really matters to them, so you have to make sure you get to the
bottom of what they really have in mind and you understand
what they want to tell you.”

To avoid jumping in before an employee has shared his or her
full thought, Villar has a simple technique: He waits until someone is done talking, considers what was said and then asks a
question. Often that question is his rephrasing of what the person
said to make sure that he’s clear on the issue before he addresses the topic from his point of view.

“That’s the best way to find out because sometimes people
tell you something but you get the feeling that what they have
in mind is something else,” he says. “So you ask questions and
you try to get to the bottom of their concern … and eventually
what they want to tell you comes out.”

In the end, making that effort to sincerely connect with
employees will set the tone you’re looking for in the company’s
communications. Even with the growth at Mercantil, Villar
sees the fruits of his labor with how many of his people are
willing to come to him with issues and how they feel satisfied
enough with those interactions to offer the same communications with their staff.

“The best satisfaction is when people come to you naturally
and they tell you what they want to tell you,” he says. “You
don’t get that with everybody, but if you do it with the majority of the people, both parties will have great satisfaction.”

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