Signs You Have A Poor Listening Culture (And What To Do About It)

Written by
Ryan McGrory
August 4, 2022

In a bustling hospital, patients' restful slumber was at stake. Sleep, a vital element of recovery, was being constantly disrupted, causing all sorts of issues.

Efforts to address the issue were prioritised. A dedicated observer was dispatched to the wards to analyse the root cause of the problem. A revelation surfaced after a day's observation— it was the hard floors! Because of the tough, solid floor - gurneys scraped, footsteps echoed, and tranquillity was disturbed.

Millions were invested in carpeting—an undertaking of substantial proportions. Yet, the intended solution faltered. The truth emerged: the issue was not the floors. It was the habit of leaving doors ajar, allowing noise to pervade unchecked, and cause constant disturbances. Nurses knew this. So did the patients. In fact, everyone on the ward knew this … but they weren’t asked.

This tale underscores a fundamental lesson: a robust listening strategy could have unveiled the real problem, saving considerable resources.

Organisations that neglect listening squander valuable opportunities. A poor culture of listening definitely impacts engagement, morale, and turnover, while potentially stifling innovation and trust.

Employee listening surpasses surveys; it's a comprehensive approach to comprehending, validating, and enhancing the employee journey.

Key Signs of a Poor Listening Culture:

  • Lack of Action: When feedback doesn't lead to action, it's like having words without deeds.
  • Poor Communication: If communication isn't clear, feedback loses its meaning.
  • Ignoring Dissenting Voices: Growth is stunted when different perspectives are overlooked.
  • Inconsistent Listening Practices: On-and-off engagement hinders a culture of progress.
  • Lack of Accountability: Without follow-through, feedback loses its trustworthiness.
  • Insufficient Feedback Loop: When the cycle of feedback is broken, employees miss out on feeling valued.

An employee listening strategy extends beyond individual voices to encompass the entire organisation, embracing openness and proactive change. Creating this strategy demands intentionality and commitment.

Here are three tips I commonly give on how to start crafting your Employee Listening Strategy:

1.Research Your Audience: Understand employee needs and aspirations. We like to create personas to help contextualise this after reviewing some data and speaking with employees. Click the image below to see an example of what we've created recently for a client in the healthcare industry:

2. Set Clear Leadership Expectations: Guide leaders to prioritise active listening.

3. Evaluate Existing Practices: Identify strengths and areas for improvement.

Fostering a culture of employee listening empowers every individual, affirming their value and voice. Leadership's involvement is pivotal in this transformation.

Remember, creating an effective employee listening strategy is not a solitary journey. If you require guidance, our team is here to provide support and insights.

If you’d like more info on this, hit us up! We're happy to share tactics and stories :)