The Effect of Poor Listening Mannerism on Corporate Performance

In the heat of the pandemic, a certain CEO who needed to address certain issues in his organization called for a three-day meeting which is supposed to be attended by 40 people.

 

The agenda was issued at the beginning of the meeting as a presentation and the group was kept in plenary for the duration with only a lunch break each day. At the end of the meeting each day, a long list of action points were issued. The problem was that some of the people who participated in the meeting had no idea what they were supposed to do next.

 

During the meeting, most people were on mute and some kept their cameras on, but most did not. Everyone continued with their emails and other tasks. This is bad meeting behaviour that will defeat the intended result of the meeting. The truth is most of them were not listening. Business leaders must awaken to the fact that 80% of their work depend on listening to someone or someone listening to them. And so the ability to ask the right questions and listen is pertinent in a leader’s success trajectory. My observations in some of the organizations I have consulted for is that where leaders or employees have poor listening mannerisms there’ll always be

 

FEAR AND RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

You see, a major factor in achieving harmony which drives cooperation and unequivocally influences performance among any group of people is trust. When it’s lacking the group begins to protect themselves against themselves. The environment is no longer safe for them to continue to give or put in their best, help each other reach their full potential and perform optimally. And so, each person builds a wall that others find difficult to penetrate – stonewalling, unwilling to share knowledge and having the tacit knowledge spread across the organization for optimal result. In this kind of environment, people will resist even obviously good ideas for fear. They’ve built walls that help them gain advantage and compete favorably among their colleagues and probably make it as the best performing employee etc.

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So, if the idea will make another outperform them, they will resist it. And the truth is internal war – the workplace – leads to defeat in the external war – the marketplace. But this is what happens when people have poor listening mannerisms. When people interrupt, interject in defence or interpret wrongly the sounds and words they pick with their eardrums rather than listen to gain understanding. Listening gives people a feeling of importance; this feeling helps you win their cooperation. At first, they may try to get that feeling by kicking and complaining. Yet when you listen their grievances will vanish into the thin air.

 

TURBID UNDERSTANDING OF ORGANIZATION’S STRATEGY, GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

The CEO of a London based professional service firm had invested enormous efforts and time in communicating her company’s strategy. She had everyone in her management team recite the company’s strategy including, the key priorities for the year as they met every week.  An in-house survey showed 84% of her staff agreed that they have clarity on the company’s top priorities – a sign that her untiring effort was yielding fruit.

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However, she engaged the services of a consulting firm who found that fewer than one-third of her people could name even two of the company’s top five priorities in their own words. You see, you can recite something and yet lack the understanding of it. Understanding can only be said to have happened when people can connect the dots; when they can give back what is said in their own words. It means they should be able to connect what is said with other facts in their knowledge base.

 

The result is ineffectiveness when people lack clarity of their organization’s top priorities. Yet the experience will be different when people are trained to gain aural skills – they will gain understanding and performance will improve.

 

INABILITY TO KEEP CUSTOMERS AND HAVE THEM KEEP RETURNING

The most critical factor for any company to experience sustainable growth is having a growing or expanded base of loyal customers. It gets better if they become advocates of your products and/or services – a large, vocal and unpaid sales force. But workers who have no sense of good listening interrupt customers, contradict them, irritate and a lot of times actually drive them away. A department store almost lost a customer who spent several thousand per year on clothing in their store. She had bought a coat at a special sale. On getting home she noticed that the linen had a tear.

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The next day she returned the coat to the very sales clerk who had sold it to her and asked her to exchange it. The sales clerk who wouldn’t even listen to her said, “you bought that at a special sale.” Then pointing at a sign on the wall she exclaimed, “Read this.” “‘All sales are final,’ once you have bought it, you have to keep it. Go and sew the linen yourself.”

 

“But this was damaged merchandise,” the woman said. “Makes no difference” interrupted the clerk, “Final’s final.” If you were the customer, how would you feel? Away from that, when leaders are unwilling or too proud to listen to their workers, they go on unrestrained in their errors and even drive their people crazy as they stir toxic emotions in them. And like you know, happy employees make happy customers which in turn, result in more profit. The opposite is also true: unhappy employees make unhappy customers. So their employees are sapped of the energy to perform optimally and satisfy customers as innovative work is hindered.

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