Of course there are not six ways to listen to your employees. There are ten million ways to do it, or more! In this column I’ll share six ways to begin your listening adventures.
The key is not to implement one listening program or another and say “Okay, we’re listening!”
The key is to always be listening, and not in a Big Brother-ish way. There are at least three great reasons to tune in to what your teammates want to tell you:
- You’ll get great ideas about things that need to shift in your business when you open up the communication pathways, especially in an upward direction.
- You’ll head off problems early when your employees can tell you without fear or hassle that something in your organization is messed up.
- You’ll warm up your culture by continually asking for feedback, acknowledging it and acting on it – then asking again.
Your employees know a lot more about hundreds of aspects of your business than you do.
They have more impact on your business than you do, day to day. Their positive energy fuels every good thing your company might accomplish. What could be more important than listening to and acting on the intelligence your teammates gather through their experiences every day?
If you want to build a Human Workplace you have to get rid of the fundamental idea that there is such a thing as Us and Them – management versus employees.
That is the fallacy at the heart of the Godzilla problem. There can’t be any Us or Them, or all your Human Workplace practices won’t change a thing!
I want you to listen to your employees the same way you listen to your customers — not once a year or once a quarter, but constantly and in different ways.
Information from the front lines is precious, whether we’re talking about customer reactions to the latest change on your website, or your teammates’ reactions to the COO’s sudden resignation last week.
We can’t pretend that it doesn’t matter how our employees feel or what they think.
You have to soften if you want to listen, because you’re going to hear some things you don’t want to hear at first. As you warm up the culture and take down the barricades that keep people from connecting to their power sources at work, your teammates will see that movement and they’ll react to it.
Their feedback will be less harsh, which is another word for wounded or resentful, over time. When your wins are their wins, the Us vs. Them mindset will first erode and then disappear.
At first when you start listening, you have to be brave.
You have to say “Thank you” for every piece of feedback, because building trust is your number one priority. You can’t feel put-upon or sulky because employees complain and don’t see how hard you work to take care of them.
You have to be open to feedback, the same way we tell employees that they have to be open to feedback. Being the boss means being even more open to feedback than anyone else!
You will learn a lot when you start listening to your teammates. You will have some of your most strongly-held convictions proven wrong. That’s always eye-opening!
Then you’ll see the amazing benefits of a Human Workplace culture. People will share ideas instead of hoarding them. They’ll laugh and joke and give a [care] about your goals because the goals won’t be arbitrary points on yardsticks on the walls.
They’ll be shared goals and everybody will know where the goals came from and how everybody will win when the goals are met.