Most of us will remember 2020 as the year of great disruption but there is a silver lining — it is also the year that workplace leaders were compelled to prioritize their people.
According to a recent study, 96% of human resources and hiring professionals observed that employee experience (EX) is increasingly important in the digital workplace. Therefore, leaders must adapt their leadership style to cultivate their employees’ engagement and experiences at the workplace.
How can a leader do this effectively?
Leaders need to listen, actively listen.
“Active listening refers to a pattern of listening that keeps you engaged with your conversation partner in a positive way,” wrote mental health expert Arlin Cuncic.
It may sound simple but active listening is not an easy skill to master. Leaders must develop the following Three A’s to effectively practice active listening.
Active listening means paying close attention to the verbal and non-verbal cues an employee conveys when they are speaking.
“If you are the person at the workplace who gives others the space to communicate fully and openly, co-workers and employees will be more likely to come to you with new ideas and collaborative projects,” wrote Elle Kaplan, Founder of @LexionCapital.
Indeed, a leader who takes the time to truly understand what their employees are communicating including their non-verbal behavior signals to employees that their leader genuinely values their input.
Therefore, strengthening workplace relationships.
“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking,” said the late American financier Bernard M. Baruch.
That said, leaders must actively listen rather than passively hear. The difference is easily identified in the leader’s attitude during a conversation with their employees.
A leader who actively listens to their employees provides verbal and non-verbal feedback to show that they are following along. They also recognize and intentionally lock beyond their existing beliefs, feelings, and/or judgment about the topic of communication.
Listening plays a critical role in workplace performance. Good listeners learn from what is being said so they are able to use the information at work without making mistakes.
Comprehension is reduced and the production process is likely to slow when someone does not listen well.
It seems then that with the right listening attitude, workplace productivity and performance will improve.
The focus is on the employee experience as the power has shifted from institutions to individuals.
“Employee experience is about doing things with and for your employees, not to them,” said Mark Levy, former Head of Employee Experience at Airbnb and Allbirds.
This is why active listening is a step forward. It requires leaders to pay attention to their employees’ experience with no reservation and adjust their leadership style and company direction accordingly.
After all, “the art of effective listening is essential to clear communication, and clear communication is necessary for management success,” said the late American businessman and founder of the J. C. Penney retail stores, James Cash Penney.