Culture Is Essential: 3 Ways Listening Improves Workplace Culture
“Corporate culture can define a business and make all the difference when it comes to retaining employees and keeping them happy. With 64% of employees feeling like they don’t have a strong work culture according to a report by TruPath, many companies are falling short in providing their staff with what they need to succeed in the workplace.
“Your company culture is a reflection of what your organization stands for, and as the voice of your business, your employees are key to ensuring that it succeeds. When you provide a work environment that your staff enjoys spending time in, it can help to improve their performance each and every day.” — Forbes Coaches Council, 2018
Culture matters. If you are a leader and you aren’t investing in your culture, you are missing out. Take three minutes and think about the following questions:
What is Your Culture?
What is your vision for the perfect work culture?
What would that look like practically?
What would be different about your current culture if that became a reality?
The good news is that if you can envision it, you believe it, and you can create it. Will it take time? Yes. Will it take energy? Yes. Will it take capacity? Yes. Will it take intentionally and so much more? Yes, yes, and yes.
In an environment where workplace stress is linked to a loss of $500 billion each year, as well as employee cardiovascular disease and death, caring is a much-needed commodity. Research shows that caring work environments lead to less worker burnout, more positivity, improved interpersonal engagements, heightened attentiveness to customer relations, and a better quality of life among personnel.Derek Carpenter, 7 Strategies for Creating a Culture of Caring at Your Business
In our new book Listening 2By2: A Paradigm Shift for Leaders (That’s When The Magic Happens), servant leadership expert Ken Blanchard wrote the following in the forward:
“I’ve often said that the best minute I spend is the one I invest in people. When you invest your time listening to people who live and work around you, you’ll experience healthier, happier, more satisfying relationships. Listen to colleagues and team members and create opportunities for collaboration and camaraderie.”Ken Blanchard, Listening 2By2: A Paradigm Shift for Leaders (That’s When The Magic Happens)
Per Ken’s point, listening is the key to great relationships AND great results! We want to offer three ways to improve your work culture by building a culture where listening is, like the best kind of mashed potatoes for your upcoming holiday gathering, fully mashed (into the culture). Add these three things to your holiday plate and you will see great results:
- Spend time with your team discussing matters other than work. We know this is hard for leaders with time pressures, deadlines, a million and one responsibilities, and so much more on your already full holiday “plate.” However, based on our 10 years of listening in a variety of work cultures from healthcare, accounting and payroll services, and education, investing in your team will lead to better relationships and better efficiency. People will feel cared for, people will feel understood, people will feel heard. Ask questions like:
- If you could create a perfect day, what would it look like?
- How has the pandemic affected your home life?
- What stresses you out the most?
- Schedule time with your team members giving each of them your undivided attention. Again, scheduling individual time with your team can feel even more overwhelming; studies show, though, it is well worth the time investment. And right there is the way you need to see it: scheduling time to truly get to know your team members, both personally and professionally, is an INVESTMENT. When you invest in something, you expect to see a return on your investment. When you schedule time, whether it’s just a few minutes or an hour consistently, you will see a return on your investment because your team will know you see them as a worthy investment.
- Create an environment of authenticity and vulnerability by offering a Listening Walk. Choose a partner or two and open up while you walk. After each person’s turn speaking, take a minute of silence, breathing deeply and noticing any tension or feelings of discomfort before moving on to the next person. Here are some examples of the questions you can answer:
- What is something difficult that has happened to you?
- How did that event affect your life and your job?
- Did anyone at work support you? What difference did that make?
Culture also impacts the customer experience: happy cultures produce happy employees and therefore happy customers.Adam Fridman, 5 Ways to Build a Culture of Caring, Inc.com
Some reflections to consider are: is it truly possible to keep work at work and home at home? If so, is it healthy for you, your team, or the business/organization?
Regardless of how you answer, spending time with your team discussing matters other than work, scheduling time with team members to give them your undivided attention, and creating an environment of vulnerability through a Listening Walk will deepen your relationships and lead to even better productivity and happiness in your workplace.
This is exactly why we wrote our newest book, Listening 2By2: A Paradigm Shift for Leaders (That’s When The Magic Happens).
In it, we set the stage with a composite narrative fictionalized from our years of experience listening in professional settings. It outlines how listening deficiencies endanger not just workplace culture but the bottom line in a company. We then outline our L.I.S.T.E.N. method, an in-depth framework for business leaders who want to engage their team, their peers, and their personal relationships in more meaningful and fruitful ways.