How Do “Asking” and “Listening” Impact Empowerment? Employee Engagement and Retention?

How are “asking people for their thoughts” and “listening to understand” linked to empowering people and employee engagement?  How is it linked to employee retention?  There is a definitive link.   

This is the fifth blog in a series of blogs on Empowerment.   

“Asking people for their thoughts and listening to understand” is the ultimate demonstration of respect, purpose and trust. 

Empowerment occurs when people feel safe to be the unique individuals they are, and when they feel safe to speak their minds freely, without repercussion.  This occurs only in the presence of trust. 

Trust occurs when you meet human needs of respect and purpose.  Respect, purpose and trust:  all human needs, once life-giving needs are met, tier to these three.  Every human being wants to be respected and valued for their individual uniqueness, and to know they add value, that they matter.  Every human being needs to trust and be trusted. 

Asking people for their thoughts and listening to understand is the ultimate demonstration of respect, purpose and trust. 

You cannot create an empowered collaborative culture unless people have learned to “ask and listen” to others because it is directly linked to trust and empowerment.   In anything, asking and listening should come first, rather than assuming you know anything. 

The mere definition of “leadership” today speaks to the importance of “asking and listening,” or “giving people a voice.”   A simple definition of leadership is, “To give people a voice so they can think for themselves,” empower people.

The two youngest generations, Gen Ys and Plurals, demand to be given a voice and freedom of self-expression in any culture.  They want it and thrive on it.  But, so does everyone else, regardless of anything. 

You talk you are repeating what you already know.  To listen, you learn.  In an empowered and collaborative culture, people are constantly asking and listening and sharing.  They are constantly learning from one another.   Asking and listening is giving people a voice.

How Would You feel?  Ask yourself how you feel when someone asks you for your thoughts, and genuinely listens.  Now ask yourself how you feel when you have no voice, and even worse, people shut you down when you try to voice your opinion, like you do not matter at all. You feel disrespected, unappreciated, excluded, distrusted and distrustful, disengaged, disconnected, angry, resentment, and many other “not so good” feelings.

When people feel they have no voice, you have trampled on powerful human needs that link to everything that is good in your organization.  You have shut down empowerment, collaboration, energy, employee engagement, inclusion, and team-orientation.  Employee turnover rates increase.  Results decline or are poor.  Empowerment is non-existent. 

Asking People for Their Thoughts and Listening to Understand is the Foundation of Empowerment and Collaboration.

Asking and Listening is also directly linked to nurturing trust, which must occur before empowerment. 

Ask people for their thoughts and genuinely listen to understand.  Give people a voice. By asking and listening you demonstrate that you value people as human beings, and that they are so much more than just a number on an organizational chart.  You demonstrate respect, and you demonstrate trust.

Coaching People and “Asking and Listening.” Asking and listening to people is also where coaching people for culture, engagement, growth and accountability begins. Asking and listening is the starting place. 

Coaching is a key part of an empowered culture as well.  All people thrive in a coaching environment, but especially the younger generations as coaching meets the needs of engagement, growth, instant gratification, and socialization. 

“Asking and Listening” to People Fosters Growth, Individual and Team.  Asking and listening to people encourages them to think and solve problems on their own.  Develop problem solving skills. It also fosters creative and innovative thinking.  This too is directly linked to a thriving empowered culture.   

There tends to be a gap in younger generations ability to solve problems.  This is a result of life-long digitalization, and instant access to everything.   Consider it in this light.  Veterans and Boomers, and to some extent, Gen Xers, had to work through problems without the use of digital tools.  They had to methodically solve problems using their brains, and limited tools such as paper and pencil.  With the advent of digitalization, answers are easily retrieved via the internet and a few clicks on a keyboard, or just by asking Siri.  Instant information and instant gratification. 

When people are given a voice, and the freedom to think and act on their own, they work together to solve problems.  Collaborate!  They learn about everything, but they are also developing stronger problem-solving skills. 

You want people to work together to solve problems and recommend new and better ways to take care of the customer and improve processes.   If people are not asking and listening, this will never occur. 

Give Others a Voice! Invariably, we can say without a doubt that an empowered culture will not occur if people have not learned to do the most important thing, “give others a voice.”  Ask people for their thoughts and listen to understand is giving people a voice. 

Training and Consultation Available to Help You Develop an Empowered Culture:   This Empowerment blog series is not meant to be all inclusive on what is needed to create an Empowered Culture.   Training is available either as self-paced online or live instructor led classes at your site.  Follow this link for more information at Add link.  Download the syllabus free.   Live instructor led costs are negotiable based on many factors, including location.  Reasonable and affordable rates.  Curriculum is based on years of research and proven results achieved through teaching and using the tools.   

About the Author:  

With over 30 years’ experience developing and leading teams in corporate and non-profit environments, Patricia Hatley is a skilled team facilitator who has a passion for teaming and an empowering style of leadership.  She is a leadership author and researcher, speaker, trainer and coach, focusing on developing an empowered culture which is crucial to engaging, and retaining younger generations (Gen Ys) and (Plurals or Gen Zs), in any environment and community.  Her work focuses on developing a culture conducive to engaging and retaining all people.  Her Goal is to “empower people to empower others.”  She believes that all people have a right to be treated with respect, and that developing trust, is the foundation of success today. 

She develops and delivers leadership and management training to business and industry, including serving as an Independent Contractor for community colleges.  Her work focuses on methods that work today and in the future.  A passionate and engaging speaker, she has spoken to groups and conducted training in multiple states about “5 Generations at Work: Attracting, Engaging, and Retaining Gen Ys and Plurals” for business, government, and non-profit organizations.  Her methods and curriculum are proven to be successful in creating an empowered culture.

She has a Master’s of Science in Strategic Leadership (transformational & authentic leadership), a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, studied communications, and has been coached by numerous journalists, authors and educators, as well as completing many leadership programs. A former journalist, lobbyist, and public affairs specialist, she has served in a host of leadership roles spanning her career. 

Currently a national SHRM and Catawba Valley SHRM member, Pat earned her SHRM Certified Professional certification in July 2017.   Her curriculum, “5 Generations @ Work: Attracting, Engaging, and Retaining Them,” has been approved for recertification credits by HRCI and SHRM. 

Her publications, based on over 10 years of research, including her graduate research project, include: “4 Generations @ Work: Leading from Conflict to Collaboration” (2012), “Three Things all People Want” (2013), Digital Grenades (2014), and “4 Generations @ Work: A Case of Empowerment” (2015). Training Module content is based on research and real-world applications and has been proven to be successful in developing empowered and trusting cultures.