Of course, you think you’re listening to your employees. After all, you stand there nodding while they talk. But are you actually listening? There are ways to know for sure.
It’s an important question. Not listening can alienate a large portion of your staff. One study showed that nearly two-thirds of workers (64%) consider it a major problem when their supervisors take action without seeking input.
A lack of real communication can impact team dynamics as well. A separate study indicated that 38% of employees said they lost the initiative when they felt their ideas didn’t get proper consideration. And that’s just the number of employees who admitted it. Include more subtle or subconscious disillusionment, and the number would be much higher.
So how can you tell if you are really listening to your employees? Here are some clues to keep in mind:
You Want to Hear Both Negative and Positive Feedback
Listening to your employees is fun…when they say nice things. But do you still hear them when the comments get more critical? That provides a good test whether you have really committed to open communication.
Along the same lines, make sure you listen to all your employees. Don’t rely on favorites or office leaders to deliver information. Seek out opinions from each of your team members.
This gets easier when you have a system in place. If you wait for employees to come to you, few people will come forward. Rather, schedule routine one-on-one catch-up conversations with each team member. Also, have a process to receive anonymous feedback – a modern version of the old suggestion box.
Finally, construct a formal procedure for generating feedback. Use employee surveys to collect data. This ensures that everyone has a voice, and you can get a feel for the office as a whole.
You Follow Up with Further Discussions
You’ve heard of active listening, right? This takes that concept to the group level.
When an employee talks to you about a subject, does the discussion ever comes up again? If not, there’s a problem. You should pursue further conversations. This lets you gather additional info and provide updates.
This strategy includes using good active listening techniques in individual conversations. Don’t hurry through employee discussions. Take notes. Ask follow-up questions.
These moves will signal that you’ve heard your employees. At the same time, these techniques will make sure you’ve understood the points under consideration. That way, you can take more effective action.
You Take Action Based on Employee Feedback
They say words are cheap. It’s what you do that counts. As such, the final test of whether you’re actually listening to your employees comes down to whether you take action in response.
Believe us: your workers are watching this too. They’ll notice if every bit of employee feedback gets filed away somewhere, never to impact policy. If that happens, they’ll stop talking to you. They won’t see a point.
Of course, you don’t have to enact every employee suggestion. Continue to use your best judgment. But take each discussion seriously. Incorporate the useful feedback. For the unworkable recommendations, explain your decision and thank the employee for their input. Encourage them to keep the ideas coming.
Good communication amplifies your team-building opportunities. That process starts by having the right employees in the first place. A top staffing agency, like Recruiting In Motion, can bring you the innovative, self-starting workers you need.