The Covid-19 pandemic led to an uptick in remote work due to an abrupt change in one-on-one communication. While most companies have survived the change, some are still struggling to adapt. Recent research published in the Journal of Communication Management has established two critical listening skills in workplaces to communicate successfully during the pandemic: strategic listening and ethical listening.
The research cites one communication manager who defined ethical listening as “listening with an open mind and being able to hear the good, the bad and the ugly” and strategic listening as “taking the good and the bad and the ugly and knowing how to use the information.”
Enhancing Better Communication
It is no secret that communication has become challenging with remote working. Workplaces can thrive if employers put better listening mechanisms in place. Strategic and ethical listening can help employees feel more connected, ultimately helping organizations make better decisions.
The use of technology can help organizations improve their listening skills. By implementing a social media monitoring tool, for example, organizations can track and analyze customer feedback and sentiment in real time. This allows them to identify and address potential problems before becoming more significant. Additionally, by monitoring keyword mentions and developing a dashboard of critical metrics, organizations can track the reach and impact of their communications efforts.
What Is Organizational Listening?
Organizational listening is the process of understanding the thoughts and feelings of employees to create a better workplace. It involves understanding the individual and then taking that information into account when making policies, procedures and communication decisions.
Done effectively, it can help prevent employee turnover, build trust and improve organizational communication. However, organizational listening is often difficult to do well because it requires empathy, which can be challenging to put into practice. Some tips can help make organizational listening more successful.
Tools That Can Help Improve Organizational Listening
Effective communication is more critical than ever in our noisy, chaotic world—and one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of communication is listening. Organizations that want to succeed must learn how to master organizational listening. This involves creating an environment where people feel safe and comfortable being open and honest and everyone is committed to hearing and understanding each other.
Several tools and techniques can help organizations achieve this goal. One such tool is the “roundtable” meeting format, which encourages participants to freely express ideas and opinions rather than stick to the agenda. A roundtable meeting aims to resolve issues, problems or concerns with as little conflict as possible. This is done in an atmosphere of mutual respect without any “winners” or “losers.”
Here are five fundamental techniques that can improve organizational listening:
1. Conduct a walk-around. This is a more modern way to enhance organizational listening skills, particularly in larger organizations with potential conflict. When appropriate, management should participate in meetings and training—not simply listen to the attendees but also engage with them.
This can help break down barriers, open people up to new ideas and information and, ultimately, build more effective teams. As noted by The Economic Times: “Tom Peters noticed that good managers tend to communicate a lot better with their team. And they do that in informal ways, like just hanging around in the office and chatting with them, rather than having formal interaction sessions.”
2. Employee surveys. Employee surveys can help employees share their thoughts and reactions to the organization. This can be particularly useful when employees struggle to verbalize their thoughts and feelings in meetings. By allowing employees to express themselves, they can gain a better understanding of the issues, relate better with colleagues and develop more productive relationships with others.
3. Metrics. One of the most effective ways to conduct organizational listening is by setting up metrics that can help measure changes and improvements. This may include adding questions to employee satisfaction surveys, conducting exit interviews or installing cameras in the workspace.
Metrics allow you to understand what areas need improvement. For example, if metrics show that employee turnover is higher than usual, this indicates that managers could do a better job with their communication strategies.
4. Anonymous mailbox. An anonymous mailbox (also known as a “dropbox”) allows employees to voice their concerns and feelings freely. In previous generations, people tended to be more reserved when expressing their opinions. This is because they were worried about themselves, job security and personal relationships with colleagues.
As noted in a Forbes Human Resources Council article, “74% of employees would be more inclined to give feedback about their company, workload and culture if the feedback channel was made truly anonymous.”
5. Chain of command. The chain of command is an essential tool for organizations looking to improve their organizational listening skills. It involves employees discussing issues and concerns with the people in their immediate circle. The advantage of this is that it ensures that problems will be addressed quickly without clogging up other communication channels.
Organizational listening is a critical aspect of workplace dynamics that is often overlooked. However, as long as employees feel comfortable talking to one another and relying on mutual respect, their communication will be better and more effective.
With the proper strategy and planning, any organization can improve its organizational listening skills.
For organizations to achieve better results, they first need to understand employee problems and issues. They also need to be aware of how their employees feel about them. This can be done by collecting feedback from surveys or employee forums and then analyzing it.
Finally, making organizational listening more effective means communicating openly and honestly. This means letting employees feel comfortable expressing themselves without being afraid of repercussions from managers.