A Lesson in Listening

I was recently invited to join the inspirational Clint Pulver on the CMI Speakers podcast. Clint speaks my kind of language and helps others conduct business from the heart while also exemplifying a growth mindset. In the episode, I talked about the importance of creating a culture of listening within an organization.

Most people reading this will understand the value of listening. But I am also conscious there are many busy CEOs and overstressed leaders who have a long to-do list and have given up all hope of ever reaching inbox zero. A global pandemic just disrupted their industry. They also have 101 things weighing on their mind, a sea of distractions competing for their attention, and they nervously admit that they don’t have the time.

This is something that I see and hear time and time again. But we need to remember that your employees are on the frontline with your customers. They’re the ones who will know the most about your business and understand your customers better than anyone. It’s these same customers that pay your bills and deliver profitability. If leaders fail to listen to the people closest to where the profit comes from, their business will unwittingly drift into trouble.

When we are listening to all levels of the organization, from the frontline all the way up, we’re able to then aggregate those voices in a way that speaks to us.

It also helps build a strategy and increase productivity. When people feel like their voices are heard, something magical happens. Employees feel that their opinion and insights matter. When they feel empowered to make a difference, they’re going to go the extra mile for both the team and the organization.

Once again, most leaders I work with instantly get the value of creating a culture of listening. The questions that I get asked the most are, what steps do we need to take? And how do we bring this to life? I cannot stress enough the importance of having a plan. You will be going on a journey of discovery to learn what your employees need from you and how to deliver a better experience inside the workplace.

When they have that better experience, what will make them go the extra mile? What’s going to make them so enthused that they’re going to sell more products, improve customer interaction and morale in their teams. All of these things will come to the forefront. But we have to start with listening first.

Your strategy needs to be multi-tier and start top to bottom. You have to ensure that your managers, leaders, and team members are conversing around the big topics in your organization. If I could leave you all one piece of advice, it would be to reach out and talk to your employees. After a year of uncertainty, there is a great deal of stress and anxiety out there that is causing an increase in mental health issues.

Creating a culture of listening can begin with a simple phone call and saying, I just wanted to see how you’re doing. What can I do for you? And just listen. This is something that every team in every organization should make time for. Remember, if you want to carry on this conversation or need help exploring this topic further, please reach out to me.


Heather Younger
Heather Younger
Heather Younger gets it. As a best-selling author, international TEDx speaker, podcast host, facilitator, and Forbes Coaches Council coach, she has earned her reputation as “The Employee Whisperer”. Her experiences as a CEO, entrepreneur, manager, attorney, writer, coach, listener, speaker, collaborator and mother all lend themselves to a laser-focused clarity into what makes employees of organizations and companies – large and small - tick. Heather has facilitated more than 150 workshops, reaching +100 employers and their employees. Her motivation and philosophy have reached more than 20,000 attendees at her speaking engagements on large and small stages. Companies have charted their future course based on her leading more than 100 focus groups. In addition, she has helped companies see double-digit employee engagement score increases through the implementation of her laws and philosophies. She has driven results in a multitude of industries, including banking, oil & gas, construction, energy, and federal and local government. Heather brings a tenacious and inspirational outlook to issues plaguing the workforces of today. Her book “The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty” hit the Forbes Must-Read list and is a go-to source for HR professionals seeking insight into their organization's dynamics. Heather’s writing can also be found on her blog at EmployeFanatix, as well as articles in Forbes, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, American Express Open Forum, and more. Coupled with her Leadership with Heart podcast, weekly videos, and employer newsletters, Heather stays connected to organizations long after she leaves the stage or conference roomWhen all the emails are returned and the mic is turned off, and Heather acts as co-manager of her busy household in Aurora, Colorado with her husband, where they oversee their four children.

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  1. It also happens in dialogues between friends and acquaintances: as soon as one person expresses a position, the other does not ask and does not express interest, but immediately reports his position or experiences. It seems that the inability to listen has become the standard of the way to communicate, and it is a paradox in an age of continuous connection on digital media, where interactivity tools abound.
    For work I was lucky enough to meet entrepreneurs, managers, researchers, sports champions, and I noticed a common element in all of them: the ability to listen. They were people who could have talked for hours about their lives and their achievements, placing themselves above everyone and everything because of their success. Yet almost always they were people who preferred to listen rather than talk, and the element that united them was curiosity, the desire for knowledge and learning, even if apparently they did not need it.
    In society, in organizations, in businesses it is necessary to spread a different attitude (which would be well taught in schools as a value at the basis of social relationships) of listening and openness to differences and to positions and thoughts apparently far from one’s own convictions. Because beliefs do not generate growth and are destined, sooner or later, to be dismantled. The value of listening must be rediscovered as the basis of the ability to communicate, the value of humility, which presupposes constant self-criticism, the ability to read oneself, to question oneself. There emerges the need to “learn to listen”, to put “the other” at the center, with the fact that opinions help to learn and different points of view bring enrichment at the top of the priority scale.
    And it is not just a question of the need to “respect one’s neighbor and his ideas”: verbal abuse, closeness, presumption and arrogance of attitude are symbols of ignorance and subculture, the opposite of what we all need; a missed opportunity to grow, to allow us to evolve in the fullest and most enriching sense of the term.