Why Generous Listening is a Great Strategy for Your Workplace
“We are not preparing for the world we live in; we are preparing for the world we find ourselves in.”
? Michael Mabee
Prepping for a Suburban or Rural Community:
Building a Civil Defense Plan for a Long-Term Catastrophe
Some people are now likening the current pandemic to in-flight turbulence that doesn’t know when to quit. We’ve all felt that sudden, fierce jolt. Fear. Worry. Tray table twisting, hands sweating.
The pilot will get us through this. Or maybe not.
The reality is, right now, countless Christian organizations (along with families, businesses, and governing bodies) are struggling to ride out and hopefully conquer the worst health crisis in U.S. history.
And here’s the make-or-break dilemma for leaders:
Even with a vaccine just weeks away, those in authority feel up in the air about how to simultaneously address two priorities:
- Focus on the now to keep the organization going (people, programs, funding, etc.) and
- Prepare for what’s next and avoid falling prey to lack of planning.
What’s the possible solution? Spoiler alert: It’s not a magic pill but more like a mindful two-part commitment.
First, name the threat.
The current turbulence now affecting organizations is pushing in on many fronts. A current article on workplace stress in Fast Company, notes, “A thoughtful leader’s job is to identify the unique sources of stress in our organizations. With a clear set of actions, you can change the game for a lot of people, yielding winning and engaged mindsets. First, discover what the stressors are. . . .”
The article pinpoints these five:
- Childcare Fatigue
- Racial Injustice and Political Stress
- Performance Pressure Exhaustion
- Lack of Healthy Routines
- Isolation and Loneliness
Which of these can you “Amen” in your workplace setting?
Naming the problem is a leader’s first prudent “must do.” Accurately naming the issue is like a GPS signal that can virtually put you on the doorstep of where the problem currently resides.
Second, make yourself at home and listen to what needs attention.
Across the board, the number one need of employees in organizations served by BCWI is the desire to be heard. Open, anonymous feedback is the megaphone of an employee’s honest needs and wants that can speak legitimate concerns and creative thinking into a workplace culture.
The seed of honest, open employee feedback received into the soil of a leader’s generous listening can bear the rich fruit of greater engagement, mutual understanding, and ongoing trust.
Giselle Jenkins, SPHR, is BCWI’s Culture Consulting Director and has invested more than two decades in helping employees and teams at every level to cultivate the art of listening well:
- “One way to kick start your way back to healthy communication levels and build trust is to conduct a listening tour. Although the variety of formats is endless, the following are some best practices for a successful listening tour. In a Listening Tour, the primary goal is to listen well and truly “hear” what an employee wants to say to you.”
In a turbulent pandemic, generous listening can be a lifeline of hope and wellness to the employees in your care. To go back inside our bumpety-bumpety airline cabin, it’s good to flashback to the flight attendant’s pre-flight instructions:
“In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will fall from the overhead compartment. Affix your own oxygen mask first, and then fix the masks of your children.”
Generous listening is the oxygen your teams will need when your organizational culture is being buffeted around by storms. Generous listening is the mindful, two-fold necessity of focusing on “the now” of your culture and preparing your people for the post-pandemic future.
Download BCWI’s four-page guide for inspirational leadership in crisis for FREE.