It’s easy to spot the ultra-successful companies. Take a look at Google or Spotify to get an idea of how businesses have transformed the way things are done. We all want that same impact for our own company, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
Stop modeling your company after elite top players. Why? Because you’re you—and that’s what makes your company unique.
Too often we look at other businesses to copy and paste their formulas into ours, grasping at and trying to mirror their forms of success. When what we really want to do—and should do—is look inward for change and progress.
Your company is unique with its own culture, concepts, strengths, and weaknesses. Your risks and challenges require a customized approach that only your amazing people and circumstances can provide. Listening to your employees is the key to your company’s long-term success.
Listening: The Solution to Any Problem
Talking to your employees about changes and updates not only validates employees’ concerns but also increases their desire to work hard and be productive. Asking for their opinions creates a healthy team atmosphere rich with positivity and inclusivity.
Listening is a skill, and like any skill, it requires regular practice in order to improve. Active listening is even more challenging and asks the listener to truly digest everything they hear while keeping “static” (including internally preparing their own response) to the side.
Listening to your employees about what’s working, what needs improvement, and asking for feedback on how to improve is key. This is a proactive approach that derives information directly from your employees (who know the situation best) instead of depending on a third party for this information can help you get correct, comprehensive information.
It’s also important to discuss these details with mid-level and operational-level employees and staff and not just the managers and leaders. Everyone has a voice and truly listening to your people is half the battle.
Because your employees take care of the daily tasks, processes, and customer support, they are the authority on what is working, what doesn’t work, and on knowing what can actually help.
Giving your employees this kind of power will boost morale and promote forward-thinking. Plus, it will spark innovative ideas from an otherwise stagnant task-force. We all know those jobs that are simply clock-in and clock-out, and we want to create a positive desire to come into the office.
Preconceived Notions? Throw them out!
It’s common for us to address concerns with an idea of what we think the solution may be, but try to approach new issues with a workable, open mind.
Take it slow, make lots of notes, and revisit the employee recommendations frequently before jumping to a conclusion that sounded good in the beginning.
It’s also beneficial to ask open-ended questions and actively listen so you hear the employee, not simply respond quickly with your opinion or idea.
Doing this will make your employees’ feedback richer, more honest, and will ensure everyone is self-motivated during the process of improvements.
Address Why These Changes Are Important
Sometimes when we want to change, even in our personal lives, we know it’s necessary. But sitting down and figuring out exactly why the changes are needed is where the real transformation kicks in.
Leaders need to fully understand the “why” when asking their employees to change. It’s paramount. Otherwise, requesting changes (especially big ones) with minimal reasoning can lead to confusion and even push-back.
Along with why the organization needs to change, you should also be prepared to communicate how your employees’ jobs will change. This is especially important when a lot of changes or big changes are being requested and will help smooth the transition for everyone with minimal hiccups.
Think about the importance of change and give them a personal motivation to increase their work ethic and productivity. You’ll want everyone in the company to feel this connection. It gives purpose behind the process.
If a competitor company shows up, you want to ensure your company can take on the battle. Creating new processes is only one step. Ensuring your employees are invested in your company’s success will be what keeps you relevant for years to come.
Getting your employees on board with your “whys” does this. It will create positive engagement throughout the company, which guarantees success!
Defensiveness is Never Pretty – Be Open-Minded
No one wants to hear negative comments. But take feedback as constructive criticisms and feel proud that you’ve now created a space where your employees feel comfortable enough to share their concerns and thoughts.
This can be a painful experience in many ways, but with pain comes gain!
Embrace the suggestions as a way to grow as a company in a healthy way. Take the bad with the good and leverage it so your employees know that they are heard, understood, and valued.
Hearing out your employees will motivate them to further commit to your company. Loyalty from both management and staff aids in productiveness and creates a healthy workspace.
Now is the Time for Action
Building an incredible culture of respect in your workspace, creating an environment with open dialogue and communication, and valuing your employees’ ideas all breed a positive outcome.
Don’t cut and paste someone else’s formula to your unique work culture. You have the right tools in your own pocket. Happy employees make for that ultra-successful company you are looking for.
Now you know what to do, so it’s time to apply these concepts and create the amazing, sought-after company you know is ready to break out. Your employees are going to tell all their friends about their incredible job—and their friends are all going to be jealous!