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Raina Writes: How well are you listening?

Posted: 
19/1/2024

Employees like to be heard. To have a voice and be understood. To have a boss who cares enough to listen. The trouble is, most businesses are run to be efficient.

The need for speed, for progress and for action means some of the little things – like asking questions and listening – get nudged out.

A lot of leaders feel uncomfortable being this open. They’re people of action. They like getting their heads down and making stuff happen. So it’s only natural they’d rather their team did the same.

But if you’re not listening to employees, it’s likely to have consequences.

They might know their responsibilities and your expectations – and they might be well compensated for delivering against them.

But humans are complex beings. We need other things, like gratitude, support or having our ideas taken seriously.

All of that is easy to miss when deadlines are imminent, targets aren’t quite there or something urgent needs your attention.

But we speak to plenty of candidates who are ready to move jobs because they’re tired of not being listened to.

So how do you make sure your team feels heard?

The companies we’ve seen do it best tend to have a few things in common:

1. They make time for it.

I don’t just mean being ready for when someone needs a word. I mean blocking out time in their calendar for the purpose of talking and listening to their employees. Face-to-face chats work best. But any forum for two-way communication, where their ideas, thoughts, concerns, frustrations, personal situations and feelings are shared and heard makes a difference.

2. They ask considered, open-ended questions.

It's easier to pretend problems don't exist – and by not asking, maybe they'll stay buried. But things are happening, whether you know about them or not. Asking questions that are tailored to the individual’s unique situation, role and challenges is a valuable way to learn more about people and your company.

3. They make it safe for people to say anything.

If employees fear the truth will get them in trouble or damage their position in the company, they’ll keep schtum. They’ll only share what you want to hear. It isn’t nice hearing negativity but psychological safety is vital for a happy, engaged team – and essential if you want to avoid problems down the road.

So, what’s your approach to listening? Have you come across any other impressive ways organisations are doing it?

Raina

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