What Can You Do When Nobody's Listening?

It's tough to build or to lead when you feel unheard or ignored. So what do you do if that's the case?

Some people might say "fire them". Some people might say, "Yell louder!" (Those people would be fun to work with, wouldn't they? Yikes!)

Maybe there's a better way.

But, like everything, it starts with the person at the top (the leader)... and, if you're a leader (remember, anyone can be regardless of "title" or position), a lot of it might feel uncomfortable or counter-intuitive, especially if you're already frustrated, hurt or upset.

1. Shut up. You listen more FIRST! What does the person, team, culture or thing desire? Stop speaking, start listening.

2. Get off of business apps, email and text and hit the streets. Talk to people face to face. Ask them one question, "How's it going, lately?" then, see #1. Do this daily. The more you do this, the more open people become. At first their frustrations and "problems" will be vomited all over you. Yet, with sincerity, corrective measures or clearer explanations regarding their complaints, and consistency you will see massive improvements in trust, problem-solving and culture.

3. Examine your standard operating procedure/policy. Is the code of conduct clear? Are the expectations simple, accessible, and black and white? Ask your people earnestly and empathetically, "Do you feel our policy is clear on that?" Then, see #1.

4. Examine your systems. Are they simple or clunky? Do they produce creativity and innovation or do they build distrust and micro-manage people? Are you competing largely off of ideas and principles or against the clock, other companies, and other people? Listen to this podcast for a deeper dive.

5. Examine your hiring process. Who are the people you are looking for? (Think of your best teammates, your best staff, or when times are happiest and define shared traits.) Does the design of your hiring process find these types of people you love working with?

6. How clear are the communication channels? Most communication should come to you. You are the leader. Leaders serve. If more communication is coming from you than to you, your leadership style is upside down. This is very frustrating for your people. And always remember, gripes go up, not down. Guide, don't lecture; coach, don't boss.

Very few people need to be fired. Most people just need to be heard, feel like they are desired, and coached.

That's what good leaders do. Keep leading.

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