The most common mistake by managers? Not taking time to really listen to employees

Ahead of our next IMAGE Mentoring Workshop on Thursday, July 26th at the Merrion Hotel, we asked Claire Flannery, founder and director of Strength Within about the importance of people management and how to motivate individuals and teams. 

They say that people leave their manager not their job, would you agree?
There are many reasons why someone might leave their job – perhaps they feel they’ve progressed as far as they can in the role or company, maybe they have been offered a better opportunity elsewhere, want to move closer to home, work more flexible, or pivot in their career. As we near full-employment in Ireland, it’s an employee’s market and there are opportunities abound.

It IS true that many people who may otherwise have been very happy, leave because of their manager. It’s difficult to work for someone you don’t trust or respect, or if you feel they don’t have your back. It’s frustrating to work for someone who micromanages you, or who doesn’t live up to the autonomy or challenge promised by the organisation. And it’s demotivating to work for someone who has little interest in what’s important to you and what you want to get from your career.

From a business perspective - attracting, hiring and onboarding a new person is costly and a big drain on time and resources - much more so than engaging and retaining the great people you have. Getting this right requires having effective leaders and a focus on creating a positive employee experience.

People leave, that’s a reality of business. But don’t let it be because of a lack of leadership or people management skills.


What’s the most common mistake made by managers?
Not taking the time to listen to their employees – making assumptions about what they know, what support they need to do their job, or what motivates them in their career. An environment where people feel listened to and supported is much more positive and conducive to engagement, productivity and an improved bottom line.

Whats the best skill to have to manage people effectively?

Following on from above, I would say listening skills. The ability to truly listen to your employees and have them know that they are being heard - that is very powerful.

At a broader level, developing your emotional intelligence is one of the most valuable things you can do as a people manager or business leader.

Do you think it is something you can learn or is it innate to you?
Emotional intelligence is absolutely something you can learn. Some people are naturally more skilled in this area, but anyone can learn. It takes time and requires you to be very honest with yourself, but you get so much value in return, and across all aspects of your life and business. If this is something you want to work on, I recommend working with a qualified coach that has experience in this area.

What made want to start your business Strength Within?
Having spent over a decade coaching business leaders through significant people management challenges, business transformation and personal change, I gained great insight into what truly makes the difference between good and great.

After the birth of my first child, some time away from my career and reassessing my values and priorities, I decided I wanted to focus on helping individuals, teams and organisations to maximise their strength within. And so, Strength Within was born in early 2018, while on maternity leave with my second child.

I specialise in navigating change and help individuals, teams and organisations to thrive in times of change. In a business context, this is ultimately about maximising business success and performance – with a focus on inclusion, leadership emotional intelligence and a positive employee experience.

What is the most satisfying thing about your job?
I divide my time between group workshops and one-to-one coaching and I have to say I really get a lot of satisfaction out of both – I love the group energy in a workshop, and also the depth of discussion on an individual level. The most satisfying of all I would have to say is when a client has an ‘aha’ moment! It’s like they’ve made the difficult climb to the top of the hill, and can finally see the landscape revealed below, and then the path down to their destination ahead.


Do you have a business mantra that you live by?
I don’t have a business mantra per-se, but I’m crystal clear on the values that underpin all aspects of my life and business. These form my guiding path, and I make sure all business plans and decisions align and allow me to stay true to these. As an example; having a positive impact, personal growth and happiness are big priorities for me!

What’s the best advice you have been given?
Done is better than perfect! This was advice given to me by a former boss. It’s not necessarily advice I would give to everyone, but it’s great for me as it speaks to my inner perfectionist and keeps me in check! I regularly tell myself this when I’m at risk of procrastinating over having something ‘just right’.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Continuing to build a business I’m truly proud of and in a way that works for me and my family. I also have some other passion projects brewing in my mind that I’d love to get started on. Beyond my business, I love to travel and aim to continue to expand the little minds in my life with different world perspectives.

Join IMAGE contributing editor Melanie Morris and Claire Flannery, founder and director of Strength Within for a luxurious evening at The Merrion Hotel, starting with a Ruinart champagne reception with paired canapes, before learning what it really means to be a good people manager, what this looks like for you, and how to get there.

When: Thursday, July 26 from 5.30pm
Where: The Merrion Hotel, Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2
Tickets: €45 (includes luxury seat gift)
EMAIL: [email protected] or CALL 01 2719615



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