The Listening Organization

Friday, March 15 2013

Employees, who satisfy their primary needs at work, gain job satisfaction and deliver greater outputs for less cost.  When an organization truly listens to peoples’ needs and facilitates their satisfaction, it earns a powerful return on the investment.Listen

It’s important to understand how to listen effectively, what to listen for and how to respond.

Listening systems:

Surveys, as discussed last month, provide knowledge of the overall picture.  Besides asking about needs for job enhancement, they can explore human needs fulfilled through work.

Observation of people as they interact at work delivers real time clues into needs on peoples’ minds.  Their words, tone of voice and body language, around the proverbial water cooler, indicate when people feel less than fully satisfied. Devices like chat rooms and discussion boards, themed for things like social interactions and letting off steam, can facilitate sharing on work issues.
One-on-one conversations deepenunderstanding of needs brought to light by other systems.  Develop a list of open-ended questions that move from general to more specific issues.  Set a tone of wanting to understand.  Make it safe to share. Listen with empathy while shedding preconceived ideas and assumptions.  Document what you have heard and develop action plans to deal with them.

Confirm your listening by responding, “If I understand you correctly, you are saying….”

Human Needs:

Basic living needs include physical, mental & emotional health, safety and security of lifestyle, positive relationships, identity and freedom.  People missing these harbour fear and are distracted from job performance.

Fulfillment needs include self-worth, achievement, responsibility, advancement, personal growth, making a contribution and recognition.

Of course people can have unfilled needs beyond these broad categories.  By listening to understand people more deeply, you provide a means for them to express their strongest needs.

Positive Responses:

Identify the importance of the unfilled need.  Does it risk causing someone to stop working?  Are many people expressing this?

Decide who can provide the best help.  Look into your organization’s power to help or provide a path to community help.

Respond promptly.  Set the organization in motion to dealing with the need.  Look to change organizational systems to create positive change for everyone.

When your organization is seen to truly listen to peoples’ needs, employees feel support for their endeavours for living safely and developing as humans.  They return loyalty and effort to help the organization make its vision a reality.