Listening For What Is Right by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

As leaders, it can be easy to focus on areas of weakness in a business. Leaders often spend their time looking and listening for proof that something is not effective, not working, or not offering the highest level of production or productivity.

Unfortunately, focusing on what is wrong or not effective in a business means missing out on critical information your direct reports and employees provide about their experiences. Only focusing on problems means all you see are the problems and challenges, which is a distorted view of what your company is accomplishing.

Listening to what is right or what is moving in the right direction in your business is a skill and an asset. Learning to listen and get information on what is correct or nearly right in the business helps to set goals, make changes, and continue with the best practices.

Ways to Listen

Listening in a business environment can take on many forms. One way to “listen” is to ask employees to complete surveys. Thanks to online surveys, these can easily be completed by employees working in-house or in hybrid or remote work settings.

The added advantage of online surveys is they can be completed anonymously with the option for the employee to provide their contact information for additional follow-up.

Scheduled Feedback  

Managers and leaders that use a coaching or mentoring model can pose questions to their team to gather information on what is going right in a real-time conversation. Coaching and mentoring build trust, supporting employees to share the positives and the challenges they are experiencing.

Using staff meetings and one-on-one meetings to listen to feedback and ideas from individuals within the company is also effective. As with any type of interaction, the more trust there is between the leadership and the employees, the more accurate, honest, and effective this feedback will be.

Use the Information Provided Effectively

Understanding what is going right for employees, direct reports, and peers in a business provides a foundation for how to make changes that work. For example, employees may report that although changing a specific process or software program was difficult, having in-house training and support helped to make the transition much easier.

This information gives the leadership team a strategy or framework for making future changes. In the example above, knowing that support for change is a positive for the team allows leaders to build this in as part of any future transitions.

While it is important to identify what is not working in a business, focusing on what is going right is equally essential. Developing time and ways to get this feedback and listen to what others are saying is key to building on areas of success and avoiding repetitive problems throughout the business.