#ChallengeTheProcess – The art of listening

24 August 2021

By Chrissie Davis

It’s no surprise employees who feel listened to are naturally more engaged and productive at work. And while we all like to think we’re good listeners, industry research suggests that when it comes to acknowledging what our colleagues have to say, many of us may be missing the mark.

According to a study by Sideways6, one-third of employees believe their leaders don’t listen to their ideas.

Having a company culture where people feel able to bring their thoughts and ideas to work has been directly linked not just to productivity and engagement, but to many other important outcomes such as retention, employee wellbeing and even innovation. So, it makes sense to create and maintain a workplace environment where people feel able to speak up and more importantly, feel listened to. At the end of the day, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

 

Listening in the workplace has evolved

As little as ten years ago, listening to your employees may have involved collating feedback from the odd staff survey – usually annually. But these days, organisations who pride themselves on their listening approach tend to take much more of a holistic view. Listening involves digging deep into the heart of your company culture so that everyone – from your CEO to your HR personnel and managers – behave in a way that means colleagues feel heard and valued on an ongoing basis at all times. It’s a strategy that requires buy-in from every decision-maker in the business.

 

A constant process

Developing a listening strategy takes time. It requires looking at your organisation’s goals and objectives, so that you can ask the right questions and receive feedback that’s going to help you – and your colleagues – move forward in a positive direction. It’s also a constant process. Nowadays, you can’t simply ask questions once and then call it a day. Listening is an ongoing process of asking, reviewing feedback, making changes and then starting over again. You’ll need a robust plan of action and you’ll need to map out all your listening touchpoints. It’s a fine balance – to get a good response rate and engagement, you can’t bombard colleagues, so consider combining your questions with broader topics, or ask little and often so the process for colleagues is quick and easy.

 

Developing skills

It can be so easy to get caught up in developing your listening strategy, that you forget to devote time to actually honing listening skills across your organisation. Developing and improving the listening skills of your leaders and line managers is key to embedding a culture shift whereby your colleagues feel important and valued – empower them to provide feedback to you.

 

Acting on what you hear

Listening is only effective when it leads to appropriate action. Of course, that doesn’t mean actioning every single suggestion your colleagues may have, but it does mean having a plan ready so that when you do decide to action feedback, you’re ready to run with it. For example, you might deliver bite-sized communications, so that everyone across the organisation is informed of any changes or receives updates on common feedback or questions received.

When your employees feel truly listened to, and when they see changes happening around them based on thoughts or ideas they’ve shared, they’ll feel valued and your culture – as well as your bottom line – will thrive.

Want to listen more? We’d love to help you have an ear to the ground in your organisation – to empower you to guess less and use a listening strategy to increase engagement and overall success. Contact us so we can listen to your challenges and share our ideas.

Chrissie Davis

Founder and Chartered Secretary

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