DON’T JUST TALK; LISTEN, SAYS IABC REPORT
Comms leaders need to focus more on listening to their employees, according to a new report by the International Association of Business Communicators.
The survey suggests that while organisations pay lip service when to listening, they do not practise it when it comes to employees. Instead, they focus more on external stakeholders at the expense of internal communications.
It found that fear is a major barrier to listening for both employees and managers. The former can be inhibited by speaking the truth, while the latter can fear exposure to questions that they feel they cannot but should be able to answer.
For many communicators, daily pressures mean they can be more focused on reducing their weighty in-boxes than taking time to listen so they can capture valuable insights from their audiences, as well as improving their understanding of how their communications are received.
Some leaders and managers avoid creating important listening opportunities because they fear exposure to uncertainty and questions that they feel they cannot but should be able to answer.
It found that effective listening to employees is seen to deliver a more competitive organisation, a greater sense of employee engagement and advocacy, more trust in leadership, greater innovation and openness to change, resilience, learning and wellbeing.
The report suggests that the establishment of organisation-wide listening channels, processes and systems is an important aspect of developing internal comms as a credible strategic management function. It also posits that leaders who hold face-to-face sessions to meet and talk without set agendas build employees’ confidence in management and trust in the business.
The IABC describes the report, Who’s Listening, as a small-scale project, that provides a snapshot of how the importance of listening to employees is viewed in some organisations. It is based on 140 questionnaires, two workshops and nine in-depth interviews conducted in conjunction with the PR Academy and Couravel. The IABC will be carrying out further research this year that will explore good listening practice in more depth.