Leadership Communication Tip: Just Because You Are “Listening” Doesn’t Mean Your People Feel “Heard”

The very first project I ever worked on to improve leadership and workplace communication I did the only thing I knew how to do in starting the project. That was to gather information from team members.

In interview after interview I heard the same lament. It sounded like this, “we’ve had a lot of meetings in the past where everyone shared all sorts of great ideas, but there was never any follow through or feedback on them.”

Over time, people in this company stopped offering their ideas because the impression senior management gave back by not following through or offering feedback in return was that the ideas were not valued.

This situation has repeated itself many times over the last six years since I’ve been working with organizational leaders to improve their workplace communication.

So, the next time you call a team meeting, or ask for ideas from your employees (regardless of their level) you must make sure you follow up on the ideas and let those sharing the ideas know the status and what they should expect.

This doesn’t mean you have to apply all the ideas, you just need to provide feedback as to what you plan to do with each of the specific ideas. This should be done even if it means a decision was made that the idea was not appropriate and could not be implemented. All you need to do is provide the reasons behind the decision so that those supplying the ideas know that their efforts were at least considered.

This will allow your people to feel “heard” and “valued.” Without the closing of the feedback loop, its actually worse than if you didn’t even ask in the first place because it comes off as disingenuous and gimmicky. It will gradually erode trust and an interest in engaging and providing ideas again in the future.

If you want to begin creating a highly motivated and engaged workforce, this is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to get started. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

’til next time, make it a great week!