Listening to Staff and Colleagues: A Complete Guide

There’s an old adage that draws attention to the fact that we have two ears, and only one mouth. Humans, the adage concludes, are meant to listen more than they speak. Nowhere is this more salient advice than in the world of business, where you can learn a great deal from keeping your mouth shut – or simply by asking questions more than you answer them. In this short guide, therefore, you’ll learn some of the key ways in which you can lend an ear to colleagues and staff members, listening to their concerns and feedback in a constructive way.
As a manager or senior-level employee, you can set up meetings in rooms dotted throughout your workspace. Here, you can host a variety of different face-to-face meetings, all of which should enable you to listen to the thoughts, ideas and feedback of your staff. These meeting formats include:
  • A group Q&A, with staff asking you questions and vice versa
  • A one-to-one set of meetings with each member of staff you manage
  • A small team meeting with different senior-level partners to discuss strategy
  • A daily or weekly briefing in which you respond to any other business raised by staff
Whatever format of meeting that you eventually choose, it’s important that you back this up with your listening ear: using this opportunity to listen and reflect on what staff members think and say.
Digital Questions
Another way to get the honest and open feedback of your staff is through online surveys and questionnaires. Here, you’ll be able to pose specific questions, which your staff can reflect on in the privacy of their own company. Companies such as offer easily-calibrated online surveys which can help you judge the thoughts and feelings of staff members when they’re sat at their desks.
An important part of listening to staff when they fill in online surveys is that you can use their bulk of responses as data, which you crunch from week to week to understand how you’re responding to the concerns raised by your staff. By letting the data guide you, you’ll be able to listen more perceptibly to the qualms raised by your staff and colleagues.
Casual and Social Conversation
Often, the most important insights you get from your staff will be from contexts outside of the official confines of the workplace. For instance, if you take lunch at a nearby café, or you head for a glass of wine with a couple of senior employees after work, you may well discover information that guides how you treat certain employees, and how you view your team as a whole.
Of course, it goes without saying that the manager’s job is to be impartial, and to remain above the fray of petty office politics. But to discover how your team works together is an important part of your management approach, and can seriously help you when you come to decide who to promote, shift to a new team, or let go in their annual review.
With many ways of listening to your workers and colleagues, these three tips are the most effective and easy-to-implement listening options for managers across the country in 2020.