Identify Both Feelings & Content
When clarifying to ensure understanding, the leader should focus on both what the employee might be feeling and the content of the message. Example:
Employee: “With all the cutbacks around here, I’m expected to do the job of two or three people.”
Leader: “I think I hear you saying that you’re feeling frustrated because of the heavy workloads.”
Employee: “Yes, there are days I don’t know if I’ll get it all done.”
Leader: “So you feel unsure about meeting our project deadline.”
Employee: “It’s a lot of work in a short period of time and I really think we need to revisit the schedule.”
As you can see in the example above, the leader listened without judging and the employee quickly got around to expressing what he or she thought needed to happen. Once that conversation takes place, whether the schedule is adjusted or not, at least the employee should feel listened to and understood. Hopefully the schedule can be addressed or even compromised in such a way that the employee also feels motivated to work as hard as possible to complete the work on time.