Mike Pounsford is a collaborator with Insocius, specialising in organisational development and employee engagement as part of our broad life science management consulting offer. He is also founder of Couravel, an organisation helping people prosper and innovate through conversations.
In this blog, Mike introduces a new report he has co-authored, looking at the benefits of companies and organisations effectively listening to their employees, and how this should be done.
We all know that listening is an important interpersonal communication skill.
However, a new report suggests it is also a key organisational capability that helps to deliver change and innovation – something that all organisations will need to define and implement new operating models as we emerge from the pandemic.
The report is based on input from over 550 organisations globally. It provides evidence that critical outcomes are delivered by effective listening which, as a life science management consulting agency, the Insocius team are eager to see implemented.
Some of the key findings include:
1. Effective employee listening is linked to improved business outcomes.
These include, but are not limited to, improved engagement and motivation of employees, improved innovation within work tasks, better performance and productivity from staff and, ultimately, greater insights.
2. This is a leadership issue.
The role of leaders in setting a listening culture is greater than that of line managers. Just some of the key opportunities that senior managers can harness to improve outcomes include developing their listening skills, listening throughout the organisation and responding to employees’ perspectives promptly.
3. The way you listen is important.
This is more than just carrying out employee surveys, which the report found undervalues the breadth of insights that could be uncovered with free-ranging discussions and a conversational approach.
4. Many organisations believe in the principle of listening to employees...
…but are not pulling it forward into practice. In fact, many employees would say that, while they are positive about their managers’ eagerness to listen, they are not as positive that the actions from this listening will be delivered.
As new cohorts of office- and home-based staff emerge and as hybrid working evolves, these outcomes will be critical.
The report, authored by Mike Pounsford, Howard Krais and Dr Kevin Ruck, also suggests that leaders have blind spots in evaluating how well they currently listen.
73% agree with cliched principles like “we take what employees say seriously” and 81% that “we are willing to listen to what employees say.” But when it comes to action, only 46% “plan to ensure listening happens throughout the organisation” and only 42% “respond promptly to feedback”.
In order to respond to the opportunities raised in this report, organisations need to look at a range of solutions to plan listening systemically involving broad and specific surveys, leadership listening events, employee forums and new digital platforms.
This new report and its findings around the value of effective organisational listening is a valuable new evidence-base for leaders focused on implementing change.
Ultimately, the report’s message emphasises that business leaders need to create a working culture where employees’ voices are genuinely valued.
It also highlights that this culture should encourage managers to listen with authenticity, and managers specialising in communication need to develop better, qualitative and digital processes that aid and normalise listening.
Looking to improve organisational listening in your business?
Insocius – a specialist life science management consulting organisation – has over a decade of experience helping leaders develop the skills to build team support and enthusiasm for changes in strategy.
To discuss the findings of the report and its implications in more detail, or to discover how you can improve your organisational listening with the support of Insocius, speak to a member of our team today.