Listening Intelligence Blog


Creating a Listening Culture: Part Two

Posted by Allison O'Brien on Dec 5, 2019 9:00:00 AM
Allison O'Brien

In part one of "Creating a Listening Culture" I shared a staggering statistic. 89% of companies have written core values statements, but only 53% of employees know what they are. 

If values create culture and more than half of employees don’t know what the company values are, how can we hope to have the culture we profess that we are committed to? How can we live by values if we can’t recite them? 

When working with a new team, the first two questions I ask are: “How much of your day is spent communicating?” and “How important is listening to your job and success?" Consistently the answers are, “90-100%” and “It’s everything.” If this is the case, then why don’t companies allocate more professional development dollars to formal listening training? 

There is concrete evidence that employees want to work for companies that value listening as much as they value bottom line. A recent study by Salesforce Research discovered that when an employee feels heard, they are nearly 5 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. But the unfortunate reality is that only 3 of 10 employees feel their opinions count at work, according to a recent Gallup poll.

"One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say." -Bryant H. McGill

If we want to improve the bottom line, we have to commit to listening across all levels throughout the organization. Creating a listening culture starts from the top down and must be lived, not just professed. It thrives in companies that reward differences in thinking and actively hire for and create teams with cognitive diversity. When organizations not only welcome, but actively seek and respect different opinions and perspectives, they make better decisions, more appropriately allocate resources, and spend less time, money, and stress in the process. 

“Culture is a key driver of growth and innovation. In order to build a strong culture, companies must lead by their values and live by them each and every day." - Cindy Robbins, EVP Global Employee Success, Salesforce

What defines a listening culture and how do we create it? When ECHO Listening Intelligence created our values statement several years ago, we came up with specific tenets that everyone on the team aligned with and wholeheartedly committed to and continues to live by each and every day years later. We remind one another and support each other on the rare occasions when we veer off track. We believe a strong listening culture begins with the leadership team and is founded on these principles:   

  • Embraces listening as a cornerstone of all successful communication.
  • Values listening as a key corporate principal supported through coaching and training at all levels of the organization.
  • Enables groups to successfully mine the ideas, experiences, and contributions of all its members.
  • Increases the flow of information across all functions and levels of the organization.
  • Fosters unity, collaboration, and a collective sense of purpose.
  • Cultivates organizational health and values the contributions of all participants.

If only 13% of US workers strongly agree that their organization's leadership communicates effectively, and 51% are actively looking for a new job, AND costs are as high as 33% of a worker’s annual salary to replace them, isn’t it time to create a values statement to live by and build a listening culture for your company?


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Topics: Listening for Business, Listening, Leadership, Communication, Productivity, Performance