We were really excited to hold another of our Employee Engagement workshops yesterday. People often ask us what we mean by Employee Engagement. The definition we like to use is “a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their company’s goals and values, motivated to contributing to success and able at the same time to enhance their own sense of wellbeing”. This can be simplified to setting the right workplace conditions to help people to ‘be their best’. One of the most important things we can do is to really listen to people. Feeling that you are listened to is important, but to really engage people we need to go even deeper, do we really listen to understand people?
How do we demonstrate that we really understand people? Not through an annual appraisal according to recent CIPD research. Many companies are moving away from the traditional appraisal to an emphasis on a continuous development dialogue and high-quality conversations and feedback. Managers need to be supported in how to have rich conversations, including giving and receiving honest feedback. One of the greatest gifts you can give your people is time for them to talk and for you to listen to them, to understand them and to find out what really motivates them and how they like to feel valued and recognised. We often practice selective listening, or we listen to respond, to move our own agenda forward. Listening to understand is completely different. We listen with our eyes as well as our ears, and by really listening, we give the other person time to think. Stephen Covey calls this giving people ‘psychological air’. It’s rare but powerful and can make a real difference to engagement not just in the workplace but with friends and family too. We often find when we run employee engagement projects, that when we interview people and ask questions of how engaged they are at work and really truly listen to them, people will often tell us that it is the first time they have felt anyone has really “heard them” and will tell us that they have found it really helpful just being able to talk. Next time you sit down for a chat, think about the quality of your own listening, and take time to listen to understand – it can be very engaging! We’d love to know what difference it makes.
To find out more about our Employee Engagement projects including surveys and interviews click here. To find out how to support your managers to have honest conversations and to give and receive feedback, click here.