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Date posted: 31st May 2024

31st May 2024

Guest Blog: The Manager’s Guide to Focused Employee Listening

Guest Blog: The Manager’s Guide to Focused Employee Listening

This guest blog is written by David Bellamy, Founder & CEO of Harkn; the live and continuous employee listening solution. 

Find out how Harkn solicits more meaningful, nuanced, and timely employee feedback than traditional surveys here

Managers face the challenging task of balancing the needs of the organisation with those of their team members. 

This juggling act is only becoming more acute with the rise of distributed teams, remote working, cross-functional projects, and declining employee wellbeing. 

Part of the disconnect between the boardroom and the frontline comes from the fact that managers don’t have access to the same employee insights the overall organisation uses to gather and make sense of employee sentiment. 

We’ve seen first-hand how Harkn’s live employee listening tools empower managers to understand concerns, harvest ideas, solve problems, and enhance team cohesion. 

Challenges for team managers 

Despite their best efforts, managers frequently encounter barriers to gathering honest and specific feedback from their team members. 

There are several factors at play here: 

Reliance on broad, organisational-level tools 

The tools provided by HR or a central function like company-wide surveys often give you generalised insights that fail to address specific concerns. These tools deliver a one-size-fits-all approach, diluting the relevance of the feedback for managers. 

Lack of psychological safety 

When psychological safety is not firmly embedded in an organisation’s culture, employees will hesitate to give honest feedback. Concerns and fears are amplified in workplaces where there’s a lack of trust or a history of feedback not being acted upon constructively. 

Cultural and hierarchical barriers 

In large organisations, a deep-rooted existing culture and hierarchy can stifle honest communication. Employees might feel disconnected from management and that their opinions aren’t welcome, making them reluctant to share insights. 

Information overload and survey fatigue 

Survey fatigue doesn’t come from asking for employee feedback too often; it comes from the nature of surveys themselves. The process is often broad and slow, and employees don’t feel any action has come from their responses. 

Lack of tailored engagement strategies 

Without strategies specifically designed to gather detailed feedback on particular topics or projects, managers miss out on understanding the deeper concerns, ideas and sentiments of team members. 

Broad feedback strategies create broad engagement strategies, which translate into hit-and-miss results. 

What if there was a nuanced, consistent way to tap into employee insights and supercharge trust and engagement? 

Well, that’s exactly what Harkn does. Our platform is designed to amplify every voice within your organisation and deliver actionable insights at speed. 

How Harkn’s live employee listening supports managers 

  • Leverage Daily Check-Ins 

Harkn’s Daily Check-In routine encourages your team members to share insights on matters impacting them right now. Employees can share whatever they like, but you can ask for feedback on specific topics to start meaningful, anonymous conversations.

  • Encourage dialogue with Prompts 

The Daily Check-In includes a Prompts feature to help employees with feedback. You can pose questions like, ‘What needs to improve in our culture?’, or use ‘complete the sentence’ prompts such as, ‘I feel safe sharing feedback when…’ This creative method of inviting feedback can unveil deeper, targeted insights into your team’s perspectives and experiences.  

  • Ask open questions on The Wall 

The Wall has a Questions feature so that managers can explore opinions through open, anonymous dialogue. The Wall brings together everyone in your organisation, so it’s a valuable opportunity for harvesting insights and ideas at scale, or you can tailor your question to a specific population. 

  • Use Bespoke Surveys for in-depth research 

While Harkn is far from just a survey tool, we do offer Bespoke Surveys to supplement our live listening capabilities. This gives you a more structured option for gathering insights and comparing perspectives across periods of time or different divisions. 

  • Create a Team Room for focused discussions 

Sometimes topics need deeper exploration. That’s why we created Team Rooms; our anonymous focus group solution for facilitating conversations on subjects that matter to your people. Unlike traditional surveys, the ongoing dialogue allows for a deeper mutual understanding of the subject. We’ve seen Team Rooms created to discuss everything from the menopause to a critical work project. 

Empower live employee voice 

I’ll leave you with two key messages to consider when seeking feedback from employees: 

  • Live dialogue drives understanding: The most effective way to grasp diverse viewpoints and encourage open exploration of topics is through ongoing dialogue. Surveys alone can’t capture the richness of conversation that Harkn facilitates. 
  • Anonymity is essential for psychological safety: Our commitment to anonymity empowers every employee to share their true thoughts and feelings without fear of repercussions. This is crucial for authentic and constructive feedback. 

If you use some or all of these approaches into your listening efforts, you will boost engagement and foster an inclusive culture that promotes collective sensemaking and aligned action. 

If you think Harkn could benefit your organisation, let’s talk over a virtual coffee.