Ask, Listen, Act: Forefront's approach to employer/employee relationships

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to a good working relationship between employers and employees.

Some people really value being supported by their company, others find it smothering and irritating. It doesn’t mean you can offer a free gym membership or company paid for counselling and assume everyone will suddenly love their jobs. It takes time and effort to get right.

From my experience, and the experience of the others at Forefront, this is the best approach to take: Ask. Listen. Act.

In practice that means:

  1. Ask your staff what matters to them. Do this in a 1:1 setting. Zoom, phone call, or in person. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you don’t do it in a group setting. In a group setting the vocal minority of people will shape opinion and influence direction. This limits opportunities for the rest of the staff to speak up and can lead to company-wide roll outs of terrible ideas.
  2. Take the time to listen, and listen properly to what’s been said. What’s right for one person could be totally wrong for another. Avoid using a standard checkbox question “would you prefer one useless thing, or another useless thing?”. The things people value most from company initiatives will change depending on what stage of life they are in, current workload, family dynamics and a whole range of things outside your sphere of influence. Take the time to listen, but don’t force people to answer if they don’t want to. Not answering is still an answer!
  3. Act on what’s been said by the staff and take the time to communicate back to them, again in a 1:1 environment

If uncertainty is an issue then set out a clear vision and communicate this with your staff.

If wages are an issue then address this head on and communicate the current position.

If flexibility is an issue then set out what you can and cannot do and communicate this with the staff.

If performance or recognition are issues then find a way to communicate what development, training or support initiatives can be provided to address this.

If there is nothing you can do, then still take the time to show you at least understand and are aware. This goes much further than ignoring the issue. It ultimately boils down to whether or not you want to spend the time doing this and maintaining it. 

It’s hard work, but we think it’s an absolute must.

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