The Harvard Business Review recently published the results of a study that looked closely at why managers employees’ ideas. The data tells us that managers make big mistakes when not listening to the concerns of their employees because organizations innovate and perform more effectively when these ideas are listened to and sometimes acted on. Employee input helps managers and companies do better in the long run. So, why are you dismissing your employee’s concerns?
Are You Dismissing Your Employees’ Concerns?
Why Managers Dismiss Employee Concerns?
The Harvard data suggests that two popular reasons managers dismiss employee ideas are not accurate. Popular opinion may suggest that you dismiss an employee’s concerns because:
- The idea didn’t come from you, so your ego prevents you from embracing the idea.
- You’re stuck in your way of working that you’re afraid to change.
Instead, the Harvard study suggests “that managers often fail to create speak-up cultures…because their organizations put them in impossible positions.” As a manager, you simply may not be empowered to act on your employees’ input. This forces you into more right, short-term solutions to work. Researchers found that many managers face:
- Environments that don’t allow them the autonomy to change things.
- Centralized decision-making structures with an authority at the top of the chain that can approve or disapprove a decision. This leaves the managers as simply a go-between, stuck in the gap between their boss and the employee on the floor.
- Environments where short-term gains are often favored over long-term solutions.
Under these kinds of circumstances, it’s no wonder many managers end up simply not listening to the feedback their employees provide. It’s a vicious cycle. Can you change it?
How to Listen to Employee Feedback
We know it’s hard. If you feel stuck in the kind of environment where employee feedback simply isn’t heard from management, you know deep down that even the best intentions voiced by your frontline workers will go unheeded. However, you don’t want this reality to squash the worker trying to improve things. What can you do?
First and foremost, practice active listening. Make sure you have an open dialogue where you can at least listen to your employee’s concerns. Now, here are a few things you shouldn’t respond with. Do not say:
- “Sorry, I don’t make the rules here.” This statement is probably true, but saying it is a clear brush-off to your earnest worker who is trying to make things better. Try saying, “Do you have a suggestion for how we can do better?” Take notes. Listen. Who knows? You may even find a way to use this suggestion later on.
- “Just do your job.” This is a terrible statement that kills innovation with a hammer. Don’t you want your team to do more than their job? Wouldn’t you prefer that they’re engaged enough to make suggestions on how you could work smarter, faster, and more efficiently? Instead, open the door to all suggestions and figure out if there is a way to use them to improve your productivity numbers. Thank the employee for their feedback.
- “We’ve always done it this way.” Look at how the entire world changed in just two years. If you’re not a change-maker, you simply can’t work effectively in today’s changing world. If you’re stuck in a job where change is discarded, maybe it’s time to find a different place to land.
The Custom Group of Companies can help if you’re a manager or an employee stuck in the kind of environment where your voice isn’t heard. Call on us and change your life.
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