Leaders, take note: you can exhibit all the right listening behaviors and still fail to make employees feel truly heard. New research reveals that listening is not just about nodding, good eye contact and paraphrasing. The key is actually taking action on employee ideas and suggestions.
Without action, employees perceive leaders as indifferent, no matter how attentive leaders may seem in the moment. In contrast, when leaders implement employee proposals or address concerns voiced, employees feel their perspectives were listened to and respected. This boosts their likelihood of speaking up again in the future with other constructive input. Beyond action, leaders should also validate employee contributions, show engagement, and make time to listen. So beware of just going through the superficial motions. To foster employee voice, move beyond listening to leading through listening. Put into practice what you hear.