Although being “open to suggestions” is part of every good manager’s persona, many employees feel that they’re not being heard. This is often voiced as one of the most common work-related complaints of all time:
“My boss just doesn’t listen.”
While this may be true in some cases, the problem isn’t always that “the boss doesn’t listen,” frequently it can be that the employee doesn’t talk. A recent employee communication study based on the Cornell National Social Survey identified exactly what makes employees hold their tongue:
Many fear exactly what you’d expect; that speaking out about a work-related problem can have consequences that threaten their standing and job security. But a significant amount (over 25%) keep their mouth shut not because they fear retaliation, but because they’d rather just save their breath. In other words, no matter how valid their complaint may be, they just don’t think that anyone would listen or care.
As a result, employees don’t just avoid blowing the whistle on serious scandals; they also steer clear of smaller, easily resolvable problems, many of which would benefit both the individual and the group if addressed.
Clearly an environment that isn’t open to suggestions is missing many chances for improvement. But, whose fault is it that these opportunities aren’t being seized? Is it the manager who is not listening, or the employee who is not talking?
Before you think “my boss doesn’t listen,” make sure that you’ve given them the chance to hear you.
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