Counseling Techniques for New Managers


Listen to this episode on

You know, one of the most important skills for managers, is the ability to effectively counsel their team members.  And the cornerstone of that is – listening.  Actually, not just listening – but active listening.

It’s something that new managers struggle with – but if you want to know the truth – we all could use a refresher.  Active listening is the process of actively paying attention to what the other person is saying, and engaging with them in a way that shows that you understand and care about their concerns.

This means putting away distractions, making eye contact, and asking follow-up questions to clarify any points that are unclear or that you don’t quite understand.

So, here are a few ways you can practice Active Listening:

Pay Attention: This means focusing all of your attention on the speaker and maintaining eye contact with them. It‘s important to be an active listener, rather than a passive one, so that you can be sure that you’re absorbing what they’re saying and understanding it correctly.

I think you’ll find that the most important thing to your team member is feeling heard.  After all, everyone wants to be heard and understood.  And when you show that you’re engaged while you are listening – it goes a long way.

Next – Show That You’re Listening: Use body language, things nodding or smiling at appropriate times during the conversation.  Again, it shows the person that you understand them and empathize with their feelings. You can also try repeating back key phrases or words, it helps demonstrate your attentiveness as well as further clarify what was said.

Provide Feedback: Reflection is an important part of active listening—it allows for better communication between both parties involved in the conversation by confirming each person’s understanding of what’s been discussed so far, while also providing validation.  Validation for each other’s thoughts and feelings.

…another reason you can’t guarantee confidentiality is that there are some issues you’re legally bound to report – situations involving harassment, discrimination or violence are among the first that come to mind.

For example, if someone is expressing their disappointment over something that happened recently in their life, responding with statements like “I hear how frustrated you must feel right now” is feedback that let’s them know that not only have you heard them, but you also sympathize with their situation —and that can allow for a more meaningful discussion; and it also makes clear that you aren’t making assumptions or judgments about what they may be going through.  And that brings us to our fourth element..

Defer Judgment: Active listening requires suspending judgment until after they’ve had a chance to fully express themselves, before coming up with any conclusions about whatever issue is being discussed.  Doing anything else could risk alienating them from further engaging with you, because they’re feeling judged or talked down to instead of an open-minded approach, where they can talk things out.

And last but not least, Respond Appropriately: Once they’re finished expressing themselves fully, without interruption, well then it becomes time for responding appropriately depending on whatever situation you discussed.

Once you feel like you have enough information to understand the situation and know a bit about how your team member feels, then engage them in brainstorming possible solutions.  Remember, your role isn’t to wave a magic wand and make everything all right – your team member has to be involved, and have some level of ownership over the situation.  Without that – you won’t have their buy-in, and whatever solution you come up with, likely won’t work.

Become the masterful Manager you were meant to be…

Are you a new manager feeling like there’s a lot to learn and a lot of pressure to get it right?

Feel like you’re in over your head, trying to balance leading your team and managing new responsibilities?

Worrying about setting the right tone and earning the respect and trust of your team?

Stop worrying – help is here!

New Manager 101: The Absolute guide to Leading Like a Boss

  • Get the skills and knowledge to make a lasting impact
  • Master counseling, and even the tricky task of terminating an employee with grace
  • Online – learn at your own pace
  • $45 per learner (nothing to pay now)

And by the way – don’t forget to get guidance from your management, or human resources.

Oh, and one more, critically important thing.  If your team member comes to you and asks you to guarantee absolute confidentiality, you have to tell them that you can’t.  A nice way to do this is to say “my goal is to help you get to resolution to this problem; but in order to do that I need you to trust my judgement – that I will only get the right people involved, at the right time”.

Now while that’s true – another reason you can’t guarantee confidentiality is that there are some issues you’re legally bound to report – situations involving harassment, discrimination or violence are among the first that come to mind.

And also, creating an environment where your team member repeatedly comes to you with the same issue and nothing ever gets resolved, well, that’s frustrating for both of you, and it doesn’t do anything to help your team member.

So yes, you absolutely must exercise good judgement in who and how you communicate.  But don’t paint yourself in a corner by pledging confidentiality; because you may not be able to uphold the promise.

Now, if you found this helpful – and would like more tips on managing your team; join our new course Manager 101: The Absolute Guide to Leading Like a Boss.

We dive into all the essentials, starting with setting the example and building a foundation of trust so you can represent the company and cheerlead your new team with confidence.  We’ll explore delegation, time management, the difference between leadership and management, goal setting, counseling, and even the tricky task of terminating an employee with grace.

Let me help you become a confident and charismatic leader.

The class launches soon, and seats are limited – but you can secure your seat now by signing up for the wait list.  Just use the link in the show notes for all the details.

Spread the word

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our site.