The Power of Listening

What if you could read people’s minds? Imagine the power you would have with that information. Better yet, what if you could easily access all that information in one place whenever you needed it? Imagine knowing what people think and feel about their work and being able to apply that knowledge to make a real difference; the power to motivate people to tackle their work and to overcome obstacles with energy and excitement.

The good news is that you don’t need superhuman powers to know your employees well enough in order to make decisions that lead to meaningful change. You need a way to listen to your employees and consolidate all that information into a single source that’s readily accessible. Then you can inform yourself and others on the story behind the data. Once you have the knowledge, you can direct your action to respond to what your team is telling you.

The first thing you need is a forum for engaging employee voice. Engagement surveys are an effective way for continuously listening to and measuring employee experience. Asking the right questions at the right time helps guide you at each decision point in the employee lifecycle. For surveys to be effective, they must be reliable and well-designed to fit the specific needs and challenges of your organization. Well-managed surveys allow you to focus attention on targeted areas that have the greatest impact on people and on the business.

Second, you need a way to consolidate the information so that it is easy to engage with the data and understand what to act on. Visualizing your data can be the key to finding the story. One effective way this is done is with real-time dashboards. This is an easy yet powerful way to provide a big picture view of the data while providing meaningful insight into the employee experience. Visualization tools and interactive charts simplify continuous listening and shine a light on specific areas you want to target. It’s especially effective if an employee experience platform allows for real-time data since this helps you impact what’s happening right now rather than a few months ago.

Thirdly, do something with your newly gained knowledge, because doing something is better than doing nothing. It’s okay if your plan isn’t perfect when you start. Taking one action to address employee concerns, no matter how small, will set you in the right direction. Responding to your employee’s ideas shows you value and care about them, and that will go a long way toward accomplishing your goals. To simplify the daunting task of continuous listening, it helps to have a system that identifies opportunity areas based on the biggest impact to what you’re measuring, whether that be engagement, on-boarding or retention. This will allow you to spend less time figuring out what to do and more time doing something that moves you and your organization forward.

Having one place to go to leverage employee voice is like being able to read minds but without all the hassle of superpowers. The intention of continuous listening is to maximize your greatest asset – your employees. Make it easy for people to share their experience and perspective. Continuously listen, foster open communication, and use that information to make improvements. Get to the story behind the data to make it easier to pinpoint action that matters and cancel out the noise around you.

“Maximizing voice means widening the circle of involvement to encompass those likely to be affected by the change process, including those who might be opposed or think differently. When people really believe that their voice counts, a critical mass for change spontaneously emerges” (Axelrod R., 2001, Harvard Management Update)

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