How to Listen to Your Employees: Business Growth Strategies

April 29, 2010

This month’s Inc. magazine has a great article on communicating and listening to your employees. One key thing for management teams to consider when running a business is realize successful communication with your employees is a two-way street. You will have difficulty executing against your business growth strategies if you ignore this fact. Employees will listen more if they feel they have been heard. Below are some suggestions the article mentions:

Create formal feedback mechanisms: A suggestion box or some electronic method of soliciting constant feedback helps employees weigh in.

Take input seriously: If you don’t take or acknowledge the input a direct report gives you, you won’t be taken seriously. Note, just because an employee gives you input doesn’t mean you have to implement it. However, you should acknowledge it.

Check management attitude: An employer/employee relationship will not be healthy if the employer shows hostility or is extremely defensive to being questioned.

Reward feedback: Harvard Business Review researchers have found that employees have difficulty weighing the immediate risk of speaking up versus the potential reward for their comments being valued and implemented. Developing a reward system that offers incentives to employees that speak up and offer feedback helps eliminate this friction.

A key thing to remember when running your business is understand your employees are the lifeblood of your company. All the venture capital funding and senior management horsepower in the world will mean nothing if you don’t have a team to back it up. Make sure you have healthy relationships with them and ultimately listen to them!


General Partner

<strong>Kobie Fuller</strong> is a General Partner at <a href="">Upfront Ventures</a>. Previously he was the Principal at Accel Partners in San Francisco where he helped identify and work with entrepreneurs who were building category-defining companies. He has more than 10 years of experience in funding and building software companies.