Listen to Your Employees More

A recent study shows that a lot of bosses aren’t doing a very good job of listening to their employees. In these difficult economic times your small business might not be able to hand out cash bonuses or pay increases, but you can pay more attention to what your employees are saying. It’s bound to be good for businesses.

Survey Results: The more powerful you are, the more difficult it may be to listen to your employees. That’s the conclusion from research conducted by Kelly See, an assistant professor of management and organization at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, along with colleagues from Lehigh and Duke Universities. More than 200 business graduate students were asked to remember scenarios where they felt helpless or where they had power over people and resources. People who recalled times when they felt powerful were less likely to listen to advice. See says, “It’s important to surround yourself with people who are going to disagree with you and to remind you that you’re not always right. Leaders should seek as many opinions as they can get, and they should force themselves to listen to those opinions.” To read more, check out the November issue of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Benefits of Listening to Employees: In a knowledge-based workplace, you want to take advantage of the experience and insights of the people on your payroll. If employees feel valued, they’re likely to be more satisfied and productive. Employee feedback may also help you to avoid costly mistakes.

Strategies for Getting and Implementing Employee Feedback:

Adjust Your Mindset. Once you recognize the bias that feelings of power can create, you can try to compensate for the effect. It’s good to feel confident but you don’t want to alienate people and disregard valuable input.

Take a Survey. Ask your employees what matters to them. These days, flexible hours and educational opportunities may help to make pay freezes and smaller work forces more tolerable.

Engage Everyone in Brainstorming. Encourage employees at all levels to contribute ideas on how to cut costs, get more customers, improve working conditions and drive growth. Schedule retreats or set aside time in staff meetings. Create an online suggestion box.
Let Employees Know How Their Feedback is Being Used. Employees will feel more motivated if they know their efforts produce results. When you make an organizational change, explain how employee input factored into the decision.

Show your employees you care this holiday season and throughout the year. With everyone trying to do more with less, listening to your employees will empower them to contribute more to the bottom line while boosting everyone’s morale.

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