Can you hear me now?
By Lexi Gibson, marketing manager at Great Place to Work™ Gulf.
December 29, 2013 3:26 by kippreport
Listening to your employees is a key factor in creating a high-trust, high-performing workplace. When you provide space and time for employees to voice their opinions, ideas and concerns, they feel much more connected to the organisation and more empowered in their jobs. Setting up user-friendly channels of ground-up communications, encouraging their use and participating actively as managers are all important steps to take on a consistent basis to make sure that your listening practises stick. Sound like a lot? Don’t be overwhelmed. Here are some quick tips to get started on your way to effectively listen and respond to your people.
Lend a virtual ear
How do you make your employees feel heard, especially if you run a company of hundreds – or even thousands – of people? It takes effort and commitment, but the payoff you receive in increased productivity, idea generation and dedication will prove worth it. The first step to creating comprehensive and effective listening practises is to figure out what tools will reach the people and have the most impact. Many new social collaboration tools, such as Yammer, are great and cost-effective ways to set up online communities for employees to share their ideas, make suggestions, and otherwise collaborate with co-workers and the management alike. These digital tools provide instant access, and the possibility for rapid response and feedback. Messages shared on these channels also reach a broader audience and are less likely to get lost, as they would in email inboxes.
Respond, respond and respond
The key to effectively listen to your employees and make them feel like they are heard is all in the response. This does not mean that you give your workforce everything they ask for or that you will implement all of their ideas. It means that you openly communicate that you value what they’ve said, and provide an honest and transparent response to their messages. If you open up channels for suggestions and employee feedbacks, you need to have already thoroughly thought about the chain of response. How will you answer your employees’ questions? Who will be responsible? In what timeframe will you commit to getting back to them? All of these considerations are incredibly important to consider above all else.
Thank your employees for their suggestions. If they come up with a new, streamlined process or an idea that improves the business, make sure to publicise it. Let everyone know that they, too, can participate in making your business better and that, by doing so, they’ll be rewarded with a sincere ‘thank you’ or other incentive. Closing the loop on the listening process with an expression of thoughtful gratitude will show your whole organisation that it’s okay – and encouraged – to speak up.