The above statement routinely comes up in organizations. Management has announced another change without listening to the employees first. The change is based in what management thought the production floor needed. Many times there is a total disconnect between management and the floor. This disconnect will be communicated loud and clear in response to the announced change. It is the floor who will always take the brunt of implementation. If the employees see the change as irrelevant or counterproductive they will sabotage the change. Often, the results which management is trying to obtain would have been attained with input from the floor. The change and its’ implementation can be saved by communication during the implementation. Only by listening and then modifying the change.
A habit of not listening will create employee turnover
The front line employees see the change as just another hoop to jump through to get the job done. The obstacles which the employees want removed still exist. The employees will have off line communication about the “unnecessary” change. The rumored cost to the company of implementing the change will be grossly exaggerated. Additional offline communication will revolve around how the employees could have “fixed a lot of problems with half of that money”.
At one company, the results of the employee engagement survey had arrived. It did not take long to understand what the employees were upset about. One employee after another expressed the same concerns. Everyone on the executive team fully understood the message being sent by the employees. Overall the executives agreed with what the employees were saying. The executives had seen the very issues occur in their presence.
A lack of listening can take many forms
Each year the organization would use the engagement survey to make and document changes. Employees at all levels were involved in the project. It became clear from the outset that the main issue expressed by the employees was not going to be addressed. It would be simply ignored. The unofficial communication network among the employees made it clear nothing was going to be done. The communication meetings with the employees were a sight to behold. When it became clear the rumors were true, the employees body language was unmistakable. Employee disengagement was happening in real time. Employee turnover was not far behind.
Though we all struggle with listening, can we afford the cost?