Article: Hear me out: The value of active listening

Employee Engagement

Hear me out: The value of active listening

Think you’re a good listener? Mastering the art of active listening can transform your workplace relationships and boost team morale.
Hear me out: The value of active listening

Amidst the flurry of emails, meetings, and deadlines, one often overlooked element stands as the linchpin of organisational success: a culture of listening. The ability to truly hear and understand one another is not just a virtue but a necessity for a workplace. A business culture that prioritises listening fosters higher employee satisfaction, increased productivity, and enhanced innovation.

A business culture that prioritises listening fosters higher employee satisfaction, increased productivity, and enhanced innovation.

Employees want to be heard!

Listening, however, is not just about hearing words; it’s about comprehending the underlying emotions and perspectives.

“When employees feel heard, they are more engaged, motivated, and loyal to their organisations,” said Dr. Sarah Richards, an expert in organisational behaviour on the ResetMD podcast.

With the multitude of tasks in a busy office, taking the time to listen carefully to employees may seem challenging. However, this is a fundamental part of a leader’s job. By sitting down and listening empathetically and attentively, leaders can facilitate the emergence of new ideas, clarify issues, and address discomfort or misunderstandings, thereby contributing to a healthier workplace.

Research from The Workforce Institute, cited in this article, shows that active listening is a rare commodity in offices. According to the study, 86% of employees feel they are not given a “fair or equal hearing,” and 63% believe their voice has been ignored by their employer or boss.

But what exactly does a culture of listening entail? It encompasses empathy, openness, and a genuine desire to understand.

As Dr. Richards explained: “It involves active listening, where individuals not only hear what is being said but also validate the speaker’s feelings and concerns.”

In practical terms, this means creating spaces for dialogue, whether through regular one-on-one meetings, team brainstorming sessions, or anonymous feedback channels. Such platforms provide employees with the opportunity to voice their ideas, concerns, and feedback, thereby fostering a sense of inclusion and empowerment.

The impact of active listening on organisational success

The most profound impact of a culture of listening lies in its ability to fuel innovation and creativity. When employees feel their voices are heard and valued, they are more likely to contribute innovative ideas and solutions. Indeed, the benefits of listening extend far beyond the confines of individual interactions—they permeate every aspect of organisational life, from decision-making to conflict resolution.

“In environments where listening is valued, conflicts are less likely to escalate, as individuals feel comfortable expressing their grievances and working towards mutually beneficial solutions,” Dr. Richards said.

Yet, despite its undeniable importance, fostering a culture of listening remains a challenge for many organisations. Technological distractions and information overload make the art of listening a rare commodity. As such, it requires deliberate effort and commitment from leaders at all levels of the organisation.

6 strategies for practising active listening at work

Here are six strategies to motivate dialogue and active listening in the workplace:

1) Establish clear communication norms

Begin by establishing clear guidelines for communication within the workplace. Encourage team members to speak one at a time, avoid interrupting others, and actively listen without judgment. Setting these norms creates a respectful environment where everyone feels heard.

2) Use reflective listening techniques

Encourage employees to practise reflective listening, where they paraphrase and summarise what the speaker has said to ensure understanding. This not only demonstrates active listening but also helps clarify any misunderstandings and fosters empathy.

3) Implement regular check-ins and feedback sessions

Schedule regular check-in meetings or feedback sessions where team members can openly share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Provide opportunities for everyone to contribute and ensure that all voices are heard and valued.

4) Promote open-ended questions

Encourage the use of open-ended questions during discussions to prompt deeper conversations and encourage active listening. Open-ended questions invite diverse perspectives and demonstrate genuine interest in understanding others' viewpoints.

5) Practise mindful communication

Encourage mindfulness in communication by promoting presence and awareness during interactions. Encourage employees to focus on the speaker without distractions, maintain eye contact, and respond thoughtfully rather than reactively.

6) Lead by example

As a leader or manager, model active listening behaviour in your interactions with team members. Demonstrate empathy, validate others' perspectives, and show genuine interest in understanding their viewpoints. When employees see leaders actively listening, they are more likely to follow suit.

Cultivating a culture of listening within an organisation is not merely a nice-to-have, but an essential element for success. By prioritising active listening, leaders can significantly enhance employee satisfaction, productivity, and innovation.

The benefits of listening permeate every aspect of organisational life, from decision-making to conflict resolution, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and empowered workforce.

However, establishing such a culture requires deliberate effort and commitment from leaders at all levels. With technological distractions and information overload posing significant challenges, it is imperative for leaders to model active listening behaviours and create structured opportunities for open dialogue.

Strategies such as clear communication norms, reflective listening techniques, regular feedback sessions, and mindful communication can help employers build a strong foundation for effective listening. In doing so, they can unlock the full potential of their employees and drive sustained organisational success.

Read full story

Topics: Employee Engagement, Culture

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?

Your opinion matters: Tell us how we're doing this quarter!

Selected Score :