I don’t know what her name was. It isn’t recorded anywhere in Scripture, but she was number 700 — King Solomon’s 700th wife!
Thankfully, we don’t allow someone to have more than one spouse today. Can you imagine what it was like to be wife number 700?
- Do you think anyone listened to what she had to say?
- Do you think she felt special?
- Do you think she spent much time conversing with the King?
I think the answer is “no,” and that’s a problem.
I’ve worked with some outstanding leaders in my career. Here’s what I observed.
Whether they were in charge of 30, 300 or 3,000 people, they:
- Made themselves available to those they led
- Provided opportunities for team members to speak their mind and ask questions
- Listened carefully to those they led
If you’re a leader, remember that your people feel valued when you listen to them. If they don’t think anyone is listening, they don’t believe anyone cares.
And if leaders don’t care, then why should they?
Having led teams myself, I know that opening yourself to other people’s opinions can be scary. However, listening doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything you hear, nor does it mean you’ll implement every idea.
That’s okay, because when you listen, you show people how much you value them.
The Gallup organization, which has surveyed over 25 million workers from around the world on employee engagement, knows being heard is so important that one of their 12 questions is: At work, my opinions seem to count.
If someone asked one of your team members to rate you on this statement, how do you think they would respond? If they can answer positively, you probably have an engaged team.
This is important because engaged employees care. They want to help their coworkers — and their entire organization — succeed.
Unfortunately, life is busy for a leader. It’s hard to prioritize. But great leaders prioritize their team. They make themselves available to focus on and listen to those who work for them.
Here are a few techniques that might help you as a leader to engage your employees more effectively.
1. Keep an open door.
Make it part of your culture that team members can come by to talk.
2. Make yourself available.
Intentionally create opportunities for people to speak with you. Schedule team meetings and town halls. Walk around the work area or join team members in the lunchroom.
3. Ask questions and seek opinions.
When you’re with your team, bring out their thoughts by asking questions like:
- What stands in the way of you doing your best work?
- What ideas do you have to improve [fill in the blank]?
- Where can we reduce costs without impacting efficiency?
- What do you need more of?
- What frustrates you?
4. Avoid taking a defensive position.
If you defend the status quo, team members will hold back their ideas for positive change.
5. Say thank you!
When you receive an opinion or an idea, show respect to the person who is sticking their neck out with the hope that they’ll be able to help. Thank them for what they’ve told you.
If you haven’t been good at making yourself available to listen, don’t expect your team to change overnight. They’re looking to see if you will stay with it. When they do, you’ll get more input from them and a more engaged team.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).