Owners are being encouraged to listen their way to a better business. William Buist of strategy group the xTEN club said business owners and managers want their employees to know “what they need to do to be productive and help move the business forward”.
However employees often feel like worker bees and can be frustrated by the expectation that they should blindly follow the rules without applying their own unique knowledge about a particular project, he went on to say.
Buist said nobody wants such a situation to develop – a boss wants to incorporate fresh ideas into the business and employees want to approach their career with enthusiasm and pride.
The problem, said Buist, lies in communication.
“In today’s knowledge economy ignoring people’s intellect simply won’t work. It is important to take notice of others, consider their point of view, research any areas of confusion and share your conclusions until you collaboratively reach agreement,” he added.
“Remarkable professionals use a process that includes specific effort to ignore external distractions and to take the time needed to listen, actively, and attentively.”
He added that listening to employees, or even business colleagues, at any level needs to be done with purpose.
“It isn’t enough to interpret the words that come out of the other person’s mouth. Other factors give us clues, for example body language can improve our picture of what their needs are. We only spot them when we focus on them,” he said.
“Employers who give their employees undivided attentive presence will be seen as more involved, compassionate, caring and understanding. Employees will feel like a key part of the organisation and experience a higher level of satisfaction and productivity. There’s a bonus too. When employers make the effort to listen regarding issues that are important to their employees, staff are more likely to come forward when they run across information that their employer really needs to hear.”
According to Buist there are three key benefits from better listening:
(1) Increased trust
Employees that feel they can approach their employers about business related matters are more likely to let their bosses in on other issues that may affect their work. This could be something like being concerned about a child who is struggling in school, or it could be an issue such as another employee stealing from the company.
The trust gained makes a more positive and productive experience for both parties.
(2) Reduced conflict
Not having a say is bound to create a certain level of animosity. This might manifest as arguments, destructive behaviour, or even presenting the company in a bad light on social media or external conversations. Turnover rates are also higher in environments where employees are dissatisfied.
(3) Motivation and a positive reputation
Employees who feel they are understood at work, and that their ideas are being truly considered, are more creative overall and often more productive. They carry a positive attitude which their co-workers often find contagious. Many will recommend the company to people they know when job openings occur reducing the need for outside recruitment.
“In conclusion, when communicating with your employees; stop, focus on the issue in hand, and only the issue at hand. Don’t let other matters disturb the conversation. Give your undivided attention and be present. Then you, your employees and your bottom line will benefit,” said Buist.