How to Listen to Employees
Get closer to the truth with these foundational reads on qualitative research.
July and August offer a unique window to focus on team culture. With a fraction of the team in the office (and a fraction of the meetings), there’s plenty of time to reflect on what’s working and refine your strategy.
But like every kind of strategy, culture strategy doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It hinges on nuanced insight into the challenges, risks, and opportunities employees face every day. That’s harder than it might seem.
Luckily, Hear Me Out’s reading list on Bookshop.org has you covered. Below, you’ll find the references that shaped our approach to internal culture research.
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Learn to focus on facts over opinions
Just Enough Research
Erika Hall teaches empirical research with humor and style. She opens by defining research as “systematic inquiry” versus “asking people what they like.”
Early chapters explain and contrast organizational, user, competitive, and evaluative research. By the end, you’ll know how to gather qualitative and quantitative feedback and look at both kinds of data with a critical eye.
Learn to uncover compelling insights
Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights
People struggle to articulate their feelings. Anyone looking for insight, whether from customers or employees, should read Steve Portigal’s guide to 1:1 interviews.
The book starts by teaching how to suspend judgment and embrace alternate perspectives. But you’ll also find plenty of useful tactics, such as how to let insights emerge from silence, or how to avoid bias by paying attention to nonverbal cues.
Learn to maintain trust with employees
Employees as Research Participants: Ethical and Policy Issues
Doing respectful, ethical research is hard enough when you’re dealing with customers. When the participants are employees, it’s even harder.
David B. Resnik’s report for Ethics & Human Research explains how to interview employees while respecting their autonomy and protecting them from retaliation. At Hear Me Out, we consider it required reading for anyone doing employee research.
Research is a skill like any other, and internal research is a skill worth leaders’ time. When leaders understand employees’ real needs with detail and nuance, they can take responsibility for shaping their own team’s culture.
If you lead a team, no matter the industry, consider bringing these on your next trip. Read them, apply the lessons to conversations with employees, and by the end of the fall, your team will already start feeling more heard.
You’re reading the newsletter of Hear Me Out, a workplace culture strategy firm. We help leaders get the full story from employees, then collaborate on a process that makes everyone feel motivated and heard. Learn how we help create space for open dialogue.