Five Evidence-Based Reasons to Convince your Manager that Active Listening is Crucial to Work Success

April 15, 2019

 

While I have already written a blog post about the value of listening, I have since come across a lot more relevant research that I wanted to share with you. It’s crucial in pretty much any professional setting.

 

Perhaps your manager is not yet convinced that active listening has value in the work place. Well, I’m going to assume that this non-listener isn’t you, given that you’re already at the Glisten Training website. However, if you’re a manager that isn’t keen on listening, but stumbled across this anyway, you can use this post to convince yourself. I promise it will help your career, so keep reading.

 

 

 

1. Overall, listening is a key management skill.

Does your manager read the Harvard Business Review? Jan Flynn at Georgia College and colleagues identifies 43 articles from that one journal that identifies listening as a key management skill. The reasons below will also support this fact.

 

2. A listening office will keep staff committed.

 

The research bears this out, too. In 2016, Kendra Reed and colleagues at Loyola university surveyed over half of the staff at a medium size company, and asked them to rate their agreement on a 5-point scale to a series of questions that related to four variables. Two of these variables were Listening Environment, a measure how much an employee feels listened to, and Organizational Commitment, a measure how much staff care about their workplace, had a strong correlation (r=.66, p<.01). Reviewing other qualitative research, they were able to get a sense of the causal relationship between the two. A mediating factor of this was Organisational Identification, how much their work becomes part of their identity.

 

In other words, an environment where staff are listened to will make staff committed to the workplace. Being listened to makes them like their work so much that it becomes part of their identity. This is because they feel cared for, and as a result will care for the company more.

 

3. Managers who listen are more trusted.

 

Another study, by Stine, Thompson & Cusella at University of Dayton surveyed the vast majority of employees at a medium size company about the skills of their managers. They measured the managers’ overall listening, listening for accuracy and listening for supportiveness. In addition to they used a standard questionnaire to measure perceived trustworthiness, supportiveness of employees, and their ability to facilitate achieving their work goals.

 

Managers were viewed as more trustworthy, not just when being supportive, but when they were better listeners overall (r=.57, p<.01 and r=.51, p<.01 respectively).

 

4. Managers who listen are better at supporting staff.

 

This should be an obvious one, but there is research to back it up, too. The same study above also found that Managers were viewed as more supportive when they were better listeners overall (r=.73, p<.01) These correlations were significant and rather strong correlations

 

This is perhaps not too surprising either. When staff trust their manager, they are more likely to come to them with their challenges at work, thus allowing them to solve problems better.

 

5. Listening more and better will help a manager’s career.

 

This has been known for some time. Back in 1994, Judi Brownell at Cornell University surveyed nearly 250 high-level and middle managers in the hospitality industry. They were asked to rate on a 6-point scale how often and how well they engage in communication skills activities (listening, persuading, feedback etc.) and related work responsibilities (presentations, memos, reports etc.). On average, high-level managers listened 20% more than middle managers (5.76 vs 4.55) and were also more likely be more effective listeners.

Listening was the single biggest difference between the two groups. It makes sense that good listening skills help managers progress in their career, given the other reasons below.

 

Conclusion

 

I wish you well on your mission to spread active listening awareness in the workplace. Do share this with anyone who needs to hear it. They might have frustrations with poor listening at work, or struggle with listening themselves.

 

Once your manager is convinced, why not encourage them to do some specialised training in active listening? It just so happens that I know a pretty good trainer. Book courses and coaching here.

 

Executive Summary

 

Sorry, dear executive, special summary for you today.  Read the five headings and know that there is research to back it up. All the key points are there.ive headings and know that there is research to back it up. All the key points are there.

 

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