The importance of listening

In last week’s post, I reported on the results of the latest Gallup poll which found that only 30% of the 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs are “actively engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.” 50 million, a full 50% of American workers, are “not engaged” and are going through the motions at work and about 20 million are “actively disengaged,” hate going to work, and undermine their companies with their attitude, according to the report.

Given this reality, I said I was going to write a series of articles on why this is the case and what you can start doing immediately to make sure this does not continue in your company because statistically, 7 out of 10 of your workers are not actively engaged.

Last week I said that one of the biggest reasons we find for this phenomenon is that most companies do not have a clearly articulated, inspiring vision that the company employees are aware of. This week, in order to explain another reason, let me start by telling you a short, but true story.

As a business coach and professional speaker, I travel rather extensively. On many occasions, I take the opportunity to engage whomever I’m sitting next to in a conversation. I do this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I find people fascinating and I have met many people where business opportunities have ensued.

A typical conversation almost always includes each of asking the other, “what do you do?” As I explain our philosophy, our work and how we train leaders, what has happened a number of times is that the person who I’m speaking to says something like “I had an amazing boss once, everyone loved him or her, and we would all do anything for him or her.” Since that’s not what I usually hear, my question is always “what was it about him or her that you all so admired?” Would you believe the answer is always the same: “He was a great listener!!!”

Here’s the point: When people go to work, what they want more than anything is to be appreciated, to feel like who they are and what they do matters, to feel cared about and to be listened to. Sadly, this is rarely the case. Most leaders are so busy doing what they think they need to do or are supposed to do that they fail to pay attention to their most valuable asset, their people.

Not only do most people know that they’re not a good listener, many don’t even care. The old school attitude that you should be happy that you have a job and if you don’t like it, you can always leave, is still far too prevalent. And I’d be willing to bet that this attitude is a major reason why so many are checked out or actively disengaged.

One of the key things we do in every company program is to teach people how to speak to each other appropriately and how to listen to each other so that people feel acknowledged, appreciated, cared about and heard. If you can see this is an issue in your organization, why not take advantage of the free hour of coaching we always offer?