"Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.”
–Stephen Covey, American educator
Listening can be a powerful tool for cultivating change in your organization. In fact, being a poor listener can have major setbacks for you and your team. In Episode 9 of Think Deeply, Speak Simply—How Listening Drives Change—Sanjeev Kapur, Vice President of Marketing Operations at LinkedIn, explores all this and more. Rather than listening only to respond, Sanjeev encourages us to be curious, observe without judgment, and listen to understand.
Here are his top mechanisms for strengthening your communication through active listening.
Leverage anonymous surveys
Conducting semi-annual team surveys can spark important conversations, especially if they’re anonymous. It allows participants to respond more openly without fear of backlash or embarrassment. It’s a safe opportunity for team members to provide honest feedback that you as a business leader can put into immediate action. Anonymous surveys are also a powerful tool for insight into how teams are feeling and how the company can improve as a whole.
Transition to the pull method
Rather than adopting a “push” model where you’re the one extending (or “pushing”) one-to-one invitations with your team members, Sanjeev recommends the opposite. This is especially valuable for larger team dynamics. Rather than being the one to initiate these meetings, transition to a “pull” method that encourages your team to initiate these sessions as needed. This open-door policy does wonders for making your team feel valued and respected.
Bonus points if you prioritize organizing these meetings within 24 hours!
Prioritize your team's input
As business leaders, it’s our job to cultivate a warm, welcoming environment that feels safe and inviting to all employees. They should never be too nervous to tell the honest truth. Instead, they should feel listened to at all times. Trusted teammates who tell you the grand reality of things instead of what you want to hear are extremely valuable.
When you encourage a healthy, inviting atmosphere where people feel comfortable voicing their opinions, they’re more inclined to share their authentic perspectives. By listening to the problems they face daily, you can produce innovative solutions that are beneficial for everyone.