As a manager, you know that it is important to be a strong voice as you lead your team to productivity and success. What some managers are not aware of is that it is just as important to listen and give your employees a voice, to ensure that they feel heard, respected, and valued. This is where employee engagement really begins.
Employees are more productive and develop greater loyalty to the company they work for when they feel valued. It is imperative that managers learn how to listen to their employees in order to promote an environment of mutual respect and camaraderie, which is proven to lead to success.
Giving your employees a voice in the workplace has a number of benefits. Not only does it increase productivity and success, but it also provides you the opportunity to consider ideas for change that you may never have thought of otherwise. It gives you the opportunity to create a workplace culture that is encouraging, supportive, motivating, and great for all.
While you see the immense benefits of giving a voice to your employees, you may find yourself unsure of how to actually begin the process. To listen to others seems an obvious skill, but for those who are used to talking and being heard, it can be difficult to begin.
5 Tips for Listening and Creating Employee Engagement
1. Give them surveys
Give your employees surveys that allow them to provide honest feedback about the business. You want your employees to feel safe in giving honest answers, so they need to know that there are no repercussions for the things that they communicate.
Surveys can be on a specific topic or just be about the business in general. They can ask open-ended questions, giving space for commentary and ideas.
A key component of the survey is showing your employees that their voice and ideas matter. Don’t just collect answers and do nothing with them. Pay attention to great ideas and implement those that you can. Ensure that your employees know that the changes taking place are a result of the ideas suggested in the survey.
2. Carve out time for 1:1 conversations
While it may seem time-consuming, especially depending on the number of employees that you have, it is essential that you carve out some time to talk one-on-one with each of your employees. If there are other managers or supervisors in your workplace, it will be easier to divide up the time with each leader meeting one-on-one with their direct reports.
An authentic connection is imperative for feeling heard, so you need to make sure that you give every employee a time to talk with their manager, address concerns, share their thoughts, and give feedback. Use eye contact and active listening so that your employees know that you hear them.
When you use active listening, you essentially repeat back to the speaker what you hear them saying. This shows them that you hear and understand them, and gives them a chance to bring clarity if you are misunderstanding. This creates further employee engagement.
Use story-telling in your conversations as a means of connection and empathy. Share with your employees so they know that you understand you are just a regular human too, instead of simply being the person in charge.
3. Pay attention to non-verbal cues
People don’t only communicate with words. Body language and facial expressions can speak volumes. Pay attention to your employees’ non-verbal communication when they’re at work and address the things you are noticing.
If you have an employee who is slouching and moving slowly when they normally work quickly and astutely, ask them if they’re doing okay or if they need help with something. If you share some information during a meeting and then notice a spark in someone’s eye, talk to them about it. What are they excited about? Would they like to help in any way?
When you’re listening to your employees, you need to ensure that you are not only hearing their verbal communication but their non-verbal as well. Often, the non-verbal is quite important.
4. Create an intentional Slack channel for employee engagement
Use Slack to encourage open and honest communication between employees and management. With Slack, you can create channels for communication. Make one for the entire team that is for sharing ideas, comments, thoughts, and asking questions.
Just like with the surveys, your employees need to know that they can share openly without retribution. If your employees don’t trust you and your methods of communication, then the tools that you use to listen will be fruitless because no one will share the things that need to be shared.
5. Show genuine interest in your employees
Above all, be genuine and authentic with your employees. If they sense an ulterior motive for your listening ear, they won’t be honest, they won’t respect you, and they certainly won’t develop company loyalty.
Seek them out to connect. Ask them how their family is, mention their spouse and kids by name. Talk to them about their hopes and dreams. Give them advice on how to make them happen. Be a source of encouragement and motivation for them. Follow up with them about the things that they have shared with you.
When you show your employees that you really do care, they will open up, feel heard, and will work hard for your company.
Larry Mohl is the Founder and the Executive Chairman of Rali, a cloud-based Change Experience Platform that activates group performance using its’ proprietary “Learn-Do-Inspire” architecture. Larry is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling book “Networking is Dead: Making Connections that Matter”. He has been featured as the cover story in Chief Learning Officer Magazine and is a sought-after speaker on a broad array of organizational topics. Larry is a contributing author in the books “Courageous Training: Bold Actions for Business Results” and “Talent Management: Strategies from Six Leading Companies”.