How to listen your way to a better business 

image 1When employees and employers talk to each other, are either of them listening? The owner/manager wants his employees to know what they need to do to be productive and help move the business forward. However, employees often feel like “worker bees” and can become frustrated by the expectation that they should blindly follow rules without applying their own unique knowledge to a particular project. Especially where their experience tells them there is a better way.  The sad part, of this all too common situation, is that nobody wants it; for the most part the boss wants to incorporate fresh ideas into the business and employees want to approach their careers with enthusiasm and pride.  So, if employers and employees essentially want the same thing why is it so difficult to get on the same page? The problem, according to William Buist, founder of xTEN Club, lies with communication. The traditional boss/employee dynamic has become increasingly less effective.

In today’s knowledge economy ignoring people’s intellect simply won’t work. It is important to take notice of others, consider their point of view, research any areas of confusion and share your conclusions until you collaboratively reach agreement.  Remarkable professionals use a process that includes specific effort to ignore external distractions and to take the time needed to listen, actively, and attentively.  Buist’s advice on how to do this is simple: Stop Multi-Tasking.  There’s always more that could be done, so we attempt to multitask. However, studies show that far more is accomplished when we have undivided attentive presence.

Listening to employees, or even business colleagues, at any level needs to be done with purpose. It isn’t enough to interpret the words that come out of the other person’s mouth. Other factors give us clues, for example body language can improve our picture of what their needs are.  We only spot them when we focus on them

Employers who give their employees undivided attentive presence will be seen as more involved, compassionate, caring and understanding. Employees will feel like a key part of the organisation and experience a higher level of satisfaction and productivity; they are involved.

There’s a bonus too. When employers make the effort to listen regarding issues that are important to their employees, staff is more likely to come forward when they run across information that their employer really needs to hear.

We all know that some of the most successful people have a reputation for focusing on the person they are with to the exclusion of all external distractions.

So, why is effective listening so important and what can it accomplish? According to Buist there are three key benefits: 

  • Increased Trust

Employees that feel they can approach their employers about business related matters are more likely to let their bosses in on other issues that may affect their work. This could be something like being concerned about a child who is struggling in school, or it could be an issue such as another employee stealing from the company. The trust gained makes a more positive and productive experience for both parties.

  • Reduced Conflict

Not having a say is bound to create a certain level of animosity. This might manifest as arguments, destructive behaviour, or even presenting the company in a bad light on social media or external conversations. Turnover rates are also higher in environments where employees are dissatisfied.

  • Motivation and a Positive Reputation

Employees who feel they are understood at work, and that their ideas are being truly considered, are more creative overall and often more productive. They carry a positive attitude which their co-workers often find contagious. Many will recommend the company to people they know when job openings occur reducing the need for outside recruitment.

In conclusion, when communicating with your employees; stop, focus on the issue in hand, and only the issue at hand. Don’t let other matters disturb the conversation. Give your undivided attention and be present. Then you, your employees and your bottom line will benefit.

About the Author

William Buist is a Business Strategist, Speaker, and founder of the exclusive xTEN Club – an annual programme of strategic activities for small, exclusive groups of business owners. xTEN helps accelerate growth, harness opportunity, build your business and develop ideas. William is also author of two books: ‘At your fingertips’ and ‘The little book of mentoring’. See: and


Twitter: @Williambuist and @xTENclub

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