If leaders want to build employee buy-in and commitment, they need to do much more than provide opportunities for people to express their opinions. Voice is not enough to achieve buy-in and build trust. People need to believe that they are actually being heard, that their views are being genuinely considered, and that they have had a legitimate opportunity to influence plans and decisions. In short, employees need to know that leaders are actually listening. Employees want to see changes occur as a result of their ideas and suggestions. If nothing ever changes, employees stop offering their ideas. Engagement suffers, and intrinsic motivation declines.
What are some signs that leaders are actually listening?
- The leader asks questions, trying to understand an employee's ideas more thoroughly.
- The leader plays back what he or she has heard, seeking to confirm an accurate understanding of employee views.
- The leader asks others for input and feedback on an employee's suggestions.
- The leader thanks those who have the courage to express dissenting views.
- The leader comments directly about what he or she has learned from direct communication with employees, and he or she seeks to learn more through further dialogue.
- The leader follows up promptly when an employee makes a suggestion, rather than letting recommendations simply hang out there in limbo for weeks or months.