Just as communication is more than just talking with each other, actively listening to your team is not as easy as it sounds. It is actually a process with the purpose of reaching a mutual understanding between each other. When it comes to communication in the workplace, communicating effectively with our colleagues plays a critical role in delivering good results. Miscommunication leads to misunderstanding, which frustrates everyone. By not actively listening, we intentionally fail to fully communicate. With the many modes of communication available in today’s workplace, listening sometimes is not done just with your ears. So many people listen with the intent to reply however a great leader listens with the intent to understand the message – whether it is via  email, Instant messaging & text, phone, video or face-to-face communication.  

Effective and active listening is not optional. It is mandatory for both your virtual and on-site team. What might active and effective listening look like? Your employees will walk away feeling heard and they will confirm this when you ask them, as that is part of the full cycle employee communication process too! Active and effective listening also gathers valuable information that you need to make decisions within the department or team. At the same time, consistently practicing active and effective listening will gain the respect of your team, remove any form of unconscious bias and also remove road blocks from their workspace. This does mean that multi-tasking must cease when you are listening to your team. As Ralph Nichol said, "The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them." 

Once your team believes that you will listen to them, they’ll be much more honest with you with problems that need to be addressed, mistakes that were made and even when you ask the question: Why are people leaving? We all know that it is hard to find good employees and even harder to keep them. Learning to fully become an active and effective listener is a true employee engagement and retention tool.