The following real example submitted by a listening leader, who wants to go anonymous, shows what happens when listening breakdowns occur.

“I am a part of a sales team for a retail store in a large mall. For reasons of confidentiality, I will not mention which one. Over the past four months since we’ve been open, we have lost eight employees. I have witnessed firsthand the importance of listening and in this case, the lack of it.

Our leader is new to her career and wants to succeed. She feels that by running a tight ship, barking orders and pushing everyone’s nose to the grindstone, that our store will be at the top in it’s class. However, in this case, the majority of the employee’s are working here for a fun part-time job. Everyone has the store in her best interest, however 95% of us work full-time somewhere else. We chose the job for its flexibility, supplemental income, the low stress it was supposed to be. As far as schedule requests go, there are plenty of employees hired to work flexible shifts in order to make everyone happy.

One Saturday, something came up that I needed to be at. I was in the middle of my shift and didn’t know if it would be possible to leave. I looked over the daily schedule and saw there were two more employees on the floor than the week before. As I tried to present the situation to my manager and ask if she would double-check coverage and see if it was even possible, she through the schedule at me and told me it was impossible. She then proceeded to storm around the store, making all of the employees uncomfortable. A week later, a single mother who also works a full time job, called to tell her she was still feeling sick. This was after she had come to work the day before, obviously with the symptoms of a terrible flu. The leader didn’t let her finish telling her what was wrong before she told her she knew she wouldn’t show up and hung up on her! Yet another employee tried to turn in a schedule request in advance and she through it back at her.

This leader is not even taking in all of the information in order to get the whole message. She destroys the possibility of working things out with the employees because she immediately thinks they want the worst in each situation. Many times the employee wants to work it out for the benefit of everyone and is in no way seeking to be abuse the system. An estimated 25 people have worked for her since the store has been open.

The cost is different in each case. In my case, I no longer have any respect for her and am looking for another job. In the other girls’ situations, eight no longer work for the company at all. They will remember the company in a negative way, which is bad publicity for anyone they now come in contact with. I think the store overall is suffering from a strong team moral. Our foundation is our leader and she sets the example and motivation for the sales team. Since she has failed to keep us together as a team, we’ve all lost respect for her credibility.”

LISTENING LEADER LESSON: The costs of not listening mount up quickly.  LISTENING PAYS!

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