Best Practice

Who’s Listening? Your chance to be part of major employee research project

How good are your organization’s leaders at listening to employees? 

On second thoughts let’s flip that question on its head and ask, what leader in her or his right mind wouldn’t want to listen deeply and carefully to what their people had to say?

Quite a lot, actually. 

For the past two years a trio of leading employee comms experts – Dr. Kevin Ruck, Mike Pounsford, and Howard Krais – have been doing an important piece of research, the Listening Project – Developing Listening Organizations in the 21st Century. 

The purpose of the research is clear-cut: to explore how well organizations listen to their employees and it’s a project that would welcome your input in a survey supported by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) but more of that shortly.

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Last year they published an interim report which showed that one-third of respondents said senior leaders were not willing to listen to what employees have to say, and within the other two-thirds only 16% strongly agreed leaders are willing to listen.

OK, 89% said the insights they bring from listening are of strategic importance to the organization, but the number of leaders unwilling to listen to their people surprises as much as it makes no business sense.

Three years ago, Poppulo CEO Andrew O’Shaughnessy wrote: “I have long held the belief that the ability to listen carefully is perhaps the single most important element of any communication or dialogue”. 

Around the same time, Edelman’s Ben Boyd said the best companies are deeply listening to and strategically integrating those insights to help shape the future of their business”.

So, to get a greater understanding of stakeholder listening, Ruck, Pounsford, and Krais embarked on what was to become the Listening Project. To date, two reports have been published which can be downloaded free here

The first report in 2019 examined how and why companies listened to their people and the barriers to listening. The second report in 2020 explored good practice in a number of organizations that consistently demonstrated the capability to listen well to their people. 

Based on these insights, the team drew out a number of principles and methods for good listening and a spectrum of different listening approaches.

The research project is now moving into a global survey and they would love your input by completing a 10-minute survey.  In return, they will send you a copy of the findings that will enable you to:

  •   Understand and share good practices in listening
  •   Compare your (or your clients’) listening practices with local and international practices
  •   Provide evidence of the links between effectiveness in listening and other business benefits
  •   Underpin recommendations for improvement against a robust international dataset

“Nurturing relationships and staying in touch during these pandemic times is, as we all know, very important.  Employees need to know that the people they work for care about them,” said Pounsford.

“The boss needs to know how people are coping and the emotional and practical support they need to be effective. But there are also much harder nosed reasons for listening to employees.  

“Making it easy for people to speak up can avert disasters, employees have numerous insights into how to improve service and ways of working, and effective listening plays an important role in effective change and building resilience,” he said.

The team will be providing further reports and updates on the findings via webinars in the New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

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