As a manager, there are few skills more important, and more overlooked, than stopping to listen to our team. We know from our own human experience how valued we feel when somebody takes the time to really listen and attempt to understand our ideas and opinions.
It builds trust (a recurring theme in developing engagement), and it creates the foundation for great employee and manager rapport. In general, when a manager cares enough to listen, an employee cares enough to engage.
But, the valuing of hearing our team goes way beyond the elements of trust and effective communication. It is the doorway to better performance. After all, the closer people are to whatever the finished product or service is in our company, the more likely it is that they can help solve the problem at hand.
When people know their opinions matter they suddenly start to offer more ideas, and they pay even closer attention to challenges, so they can help things improve faster.
Think about the impact of listening from their perspective. When they offer up a suggestion about a problem in their work area that is acted upon they get a double win. They get the satisfaction of whatever “thank you” goes with it from their manager, and the act of solving the problem very likely makes their job life easier. They know their work and their input matters. They can feel they are making a difference. They engage.
There are always times their ideas and opinions won’t, or can’t, be acted upon. That doesn’t change the importance of listening and providing feedback, even if no action can be taken.
Ah, but the opposite is true as well. When they are met with lip service about their value as employees, but their opinions and suggestions are ignored, or never even allowed to be voiced, they shut down. Who can blame them? You and I would likely do the same.
They quickly learn to do the minimum, with little enthusiasm or concern for their impact. “Not my job” becomes their recurring mindset exemplified in so many ways.
In fact, according to a study by author John Izzo, the number 1 reason why employees don’t take more initiative at work is that their leaders fail to get their input before making decisions.
Command and control management styles lead to limited employee engagement. Taking the time to listen and then act helps employees buy-in to the direction we are going. Along the way, we often find the seeds of brilliance, things that can profoundly shape our companies in ways we didn’t see, in the insights they share.
Seek out somebody on your team today and ask for their input…and then hear them.
Reach out if you want more information on driving engagement in your team!