07 Sep Do you plan for listening?
When we take time to listen to our people and their challenges, we have the opportunity to take action. To either do something about the challenge, or at least explain why we’re choosing to NOT do something about it.
Do you PLAN for listening in your business?
Planned listening is when we create a specific ‘space’ for our people to share what’s going on – their thoughts, opinions, ideas, and feedback.
You can create Planned Listening mechanisms for specific initiatives, or for simply checking in on everyday company life. For large organisations Planned Listening is vital, it’s the only way to temperature-check employee experience. But for scaling organisations, it’s often an area that gets neglected, after all, you still know most of the team, maybe you chat to them over coffee or in the pub, and you probably feel you have a pretty good steer on things.
But ask yourself. How likely is it that people will tell you the unguarded truth? Have you truly managed to build an environment where people feel 100% open? Or is the fact that you’re ‘in charge’ always going to lead to them adapting, editing, or diluting their opinions? The latter is far more likely as we start to scale. The team no longer has that ‘no holds barred’ relationship with you. People won’t see you as YOU – the person who started the business in their back bedroom, but THE BOSS, ultimately the person who decides whether they have a future in your organisation.
Having effective listening systems is a great idea if you want to keep an understanding of what is actually going on with your people.
What do we need to listen to?
We’re listening for things that will give you the insight to make a proactive change. The point of listening is to build a culture and environment where people thrive, do the best work they can, and support the business on it’s growth journey.
These include :
How connected do people feel to your mission and goals? Do they feel part of something bigger than themselves? Do they actually care about their work, or are they just working for their paycheck?
Are your people doing ok? What’s morale like? Are people struggling? If so, where could the business better support them?
Does your team have the right tools to get the job done? Are the conditions they’re working in making them productive or holding them back?
Are there problem areas that you need to know about? Is a process holding people back, or is there something that needs to change? If you don’t ask, you won’t know.
Do people feel that they’re being fairly rewarded for what they do? I don’t just mean in monetary terms but in recognition and appreciation.
Understand the impact of change
The world is in constant flux and uncertainty, so we need to have flexible ways of listening as new challenges hit us.
4 GREAT WAYS TO LISTEN
1. Polls and survey
Surveys are a great way to collect data and look for themes and trends across the business. If you can make them anonymous, people are more likely to be honest and give you more valuable insight.
Don’t leave surveys to once a year – the world moves faster than that. Pulse surveys and regular quarterly surveys will give you a more accurate idea of what is actually going on across the business.
2. Employee Forum
Having a representative group from across the organisation can give you great information about the challenges people are facing. Remember, you might hear things you don’t like, but don’t get defensive, this is an opportunity to build understanding and take action.
It’s worth taking time to build the skills of the people in the group, so they are able to collate information from across the team accurately and communicate it clearly. Also, you may need to build their confidence and psychological safety when it comes to giving you a few home truths!
3. Focus Groups
When you have a new initiative or change program underway, focus groups are invaluable. They’re an opportunity to hear from people across the business, in an informal setting. Whether you delegate the facilitation of these or attend them yourself, it gives a large number of people the chance to be heard and validated. And to allow for any changes to the initiative to be made effectively.
4. Ask me anything
Whilst an ‘ask me anything’ session might fill you with trepidation, listening out to the questions people are asking can give you valuable intelligence. Is there an underlying fear about job security? If there are no questions, are people feeling disengaged? The questions asked could be whispers of a bigger issue. Don’t just answer the questions and move on, but take the time to understand the motivation behind them and whether deeper investigation is needed.
Planned listening works alongside ‘in the moment’ listening, and it’s the superpower of a great leader!