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Do you think you know what others want and need at work?

Think again.

Heather Younger, a workplace culture expert, two-time TEDx keynote speaker, and author, says that many companies suffer from a lack of active listening, the one element that has the power to positively transform their culture.

“We are, many of us, going about our work lives assuming what others want and need from us without really ever knowing the truth behind those wants and needs,” says Younger.

In her personal review of over 30,000 employee and customer surveys and facilitation of hundreds of focus groups, Heather Younger discovered one universal truth: we all want to be heard.

“I wrote this book because I discovered two things through my work in organizational listening:

  1. Employees and customers were often so grateful when my firm was brought in to do listening sessions with them. They would say things like, ‘This feels so good and like my leadership cares for me because you created this space for us to tell you what we want.’
  2. I could see that many inside organizations aren’t really ever listening to one another or customers in a fruitful way. People often listen for their own outcomes, not to help the other.”

Determined to teach people a better way, Younger outlined a five-step framework on how to listen successfully and act on what you’re hearing:

Step 1: Recognize the unsaid

Active listening begins by picking up on important signals. Many people are afraid to share and discuss sensitive topics in the workplace. Younger says the first step is for leaders to safely explore what everyone hesitates to say out loud. Then, be proactive in planting the seeds of change by giving your team the feeling of being heard, hope about imminent changes, clarity about where you are now, and shared knowledge about what needs to be addressed.


Step 2: Seek to understand

Next, capture insights and emotions through active listening to help everyone gain a deep understanding of what their team members and customers want and need. Younger says you can also use this knowledge of what your people care about as a foundation for measurable, organization-wide change.

Step 3: Decode

Once you have those valuable insights, the next step is deciphering what’s most important to your team members and customers. You’ll now have a complete picture of what people find unsatisfactory, challenging, or frustrating and have the opportunity to reflect on what changes will likely have the most significant impact.


Step 4: Act

This step is crucial, says Younger, because you have the tools you need to capture hearts and minds at every level. By leveraging insights from previous steps, you can build an inclusive and collaborative action plan that will help everyone feel excited, empowered, and deeply engaged as they contribute to and experience creating a transformational culture.

Step 5: Close the loop

The final step in the process is connecting the dots for your employees and customers by communicating how you’ve been listening, what you observe as missing, and the actions you’re taking as a result. This creates a virtuous cycle: as your team members feel valued, heard, and empowered, they own more, give more, and perform at higher levels of excellence, and your customers will reward you will brand loyalty.

Younger stresses that executives aren’t the only ones who benefit from mastering the art of active listening.

“This book is for everyone at work—from the front line to the C-suite to the board to those in internal service departments—who wants to get to the bottom of what people really want from them at work and leave people feeling heard.”


Source: Forbes

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