Posted by & filed under Active Listening, Communicating To Manage Performance, Feedback, Leadership.

feedback photoIt’s no surprise by now that engaged employees are the “secret sauce” to a company’s productivity, performance, and overall success. When team members feel invested in company culture, they find personal meaning in their work. This often translates to better outcomes as they’re more responsive to challenges and can foresee and head off potential problems before they manifest.

But increasing employee engagement doesn’t end with hiring superstars. It’s also about creating and maintaining a culture that makes them feel valued. As we’ve discussed before, honesty is one of the most valued characteristics of a successful leadership team. And one of the best ways to develop a foundation of trust is to show your employees that you’ll listen to what they have to say – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Here are a few steps to creating a listening culture:

Seek constructive yet honest feedback. Think of popular rating websites like Yelp, Glassdoor, and Amazon. People love sharing their opinions on everything from shoes to restaurants to local businesses. The same goes for their places of employment. Make it easy for your employees to have their needs and suggestions heard internally before those opinions go public. Offer anonymous surveys, have suggestion boxes, or seek employee input on decisions that are likely to affect them the most. Removing all barriers to giving feedback helps to keep communication lines open.

Ask and listen for positives (and offer them, too). Just as we offer constructive feedback in the form of praise and suggestions for improvement, encourage your team to do the same. Ask them what’s going well, what initiatives they’d like to see continue, what recent changes they’ve appreciated, what matters most to them about their work. It’s easy to fire off complaints in feedback surveys, but encouraging employees to assess your strengths and weaknesses helps both of you to see what’s also going right.

Acknowledge and respond to feedback trends. Rather than feeling like their survey responses or feedback forms are heading into the ether, employees will feel valued if they know their responses are heard. Something as simple as an e-mail titled “Q1 Survey Results” that acknowledges trends or strong feelings might be helpful: “Several people expressed some anxiety about the timetable for Project X being too short. What are some ways we can better deal with this problem?” Even if you can’t make substantive changes to the issue, showing your team that you’re listening to their problems can go a long way. And soliciting possible solutions from the boots on the ground doesn’t hurt either.

Leaders with the most impact are those who can build and successfully manage great teams. Every day, we help our clients and colleagues achieve their highest levels of professional presence and personal effectiveness. That includes everyone on the ladder, from company presidents to project managers, to staff members. Contact us at 800-282-3374 to find out how we can help you impact your own productivity and the productivity of your entire organization.

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.

Photo by Sonti Malonti via Flickr

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