It’s common knowledge that businesses need to understand their customers in order to be successful. Companies that have a thorough knowledge of their target market are better equipped to produce and deliver superior products and services to their customers. The way companies gain this knowledge is to listen to their customers. Listening to your customers helps you learn about their pains and struggles so you can create the innovative solutions that they will want to purchase.
In Janine Popick’s article, “Talk to Your Customers; You Might Learn Something,” she discusses how CEO’s need to make themselves available to see what customers are saying and communicate with them directly. We want to take this concept one step further and talk about how important it is to talk to your employees too. Listening to employees’ ideas and challenges provides a similar opportunity to improve processes and spark new, innovative ideas. Seeing and listening firsthand what your employees think is crucial to your business, just as much as knowing what your customers think.
But how available are you for your employees? Do you provide them opportunities to give their input or suggestions?
Here are three ways that you can create opportunities to talk and listen to your employees:
- Have an open door policy – Encourage employees to talk to their leaders when they have an obstacle, want to make a suggestion or simply have a new idea. One specific way we do this at Achievers is during our monthly “Ask the Leaders” sessions where employees anonymously submit questions, suggestions or ideas for the leadership team. At the event, all of the questions and ideas are read aloud and answered for the entire company, and the floor is open for discussion. For employees, it provides a platform to have open and honest communication with leaders.
- Inspire employees to submit new ideas –At Achievers, we have a program called “Bright Ideas,” where employees can submit ideas that will benefit or create value for the company. These ideas are shared then celebrated with the entire company at our monthly recognition luncheons. This shows that employees have a voice to provide input to spur positive change and make the company as successful as possible.
- Bring pain points to the forefront – As a leader, you should be concerned if you only hear about good news in your company. You should also provide opportunities to hear about employees’ obstacles or challenges, and ask how the company can make improvements to minimize or eliminate these issues. You may want to consider revamping old processes or hire more resources where needed. Either way, it’s better to proactively address these issues with your employees so your business can continually improve and grow.
What other ways to communicate with your employees would you add to the list? Share your ideas or experiences in the comments below.