Sir Winston Churchill once said, “The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.” The approach of ignoring the popular opinion of the masses during war may work for a prime minister, but it won’t work in business. Running a company isn’t like fighting a war. In war, you can’t pack up your desk and leave if you are unsatisfied, overworked, and under-appreciated. However, losing employees at a high rate is a boss’s worst nightmare. Ruling with an iron fist and no regard for what your employees need won’t give them any reason to trust you or to respect you. In fact, one study shows the number 2 complaint from employees about their boss is that they don’t listen (number 1 was micromanaging if you’re curious). There is great value in actively listening, here are some reasons why:
- Hear rumblings of problems and find a solution before they become serious issues!
- Stay updated with employee news and updates; who just came back from vacation? Who has suffered a loss in the family? Being up to date with this type of news and offering genuine and informed comments is great for reputation and company culture. Get to know them and make them feel like you really care.
- Be a useful tool for middle management and help them when they need to make important decisions regarding employees. If they come to you for guidance, you need to know the history and context.
- Learn which of your initiatives are working. Are people complaining about the monthly surveys you’re sending out? Take that information and try in-person town halls instead. Adjust your methods!
- Develop retention strategies by listening to the needs of your employees. Moving forward with plans will be easier if you know what they need or expect from a good leader.