You Might Close the Door – But Open Your Ears!
Making a small shift in our attitude and how we approach something can make a HUGE difference in our leadership and in the entire organization.
I want to share one concept with you.
You might think that is a slight, minuscule, inconsequential bit of semantics, but stop right there – and think about it again.
With an open door policy, anyone can come in and voice a concern, suggestion or opinion. But that’s usually the face-to-face version of writing it on a slip of paper and dropping it in the suggestion box. It doesn’t imply any part of “I heard you…” There is a decisive point of view – a yes or no determination and usually, little discussion or conversation. “We can’t do that because of A, B, and C. Thank you for your input. Have a good day.” Who is eager to walk into the bosses’ offices and put their neck out?
An open ear policy is different. It is more of a, “Hey, I noticed that this was happening and think we can solve/change/improve that by doing X, Y, or Z.” The listening ear will ask questions and get more detailed information and details. The open ear will involve others if warranted and the entire “suggestion” becomes two or more people collaborating on make the company more efficient, more profitable, just better.
You’ll notice there is a shift in attitude from the boss making all the decisions and the workers implementing those decisions, to collaborative team members analyzing problems and devising solutions. The key to making an open ear policy work is in the communication and follow-up. The person offering the suggestion needs to know that his idea or contribution was truly considered and processed.
When people are expected to bring possible solutions to the table along with the problem, teams can work toward solutions, eliminate the blame game and the potential of shoving the problem off onto someone else.
An open ear also becomes connected with everyone. When you ask, “What are your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?” and “What do you want to learn (and achieve) right now?” in a trusting environment, with an open ear, people respond and the team dynamic grows.
Effective leadership is really a give and take, two-way communication that is powerful when we open our ears.
To Your Success!