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The sign of a healthy organisation, is one that listens to its people

This Speak Up Month, we are raising awareness of how much we value speaking up in our organisation. In our latest blog colleagues share why it is essential that when people speak up they are listened to.

Suzie Adam, Hospital Manager

“The sign of a healthy organisation, is one that listens to its people.

This has been illustrated time and again when we see undercover expose’s on failing services, hospitals that have run into trouble with poor culture, leaders that say that had no idea what was going on or worse, turned a blind eye. We have learnt that the healthiest – and safest – cultures for patient care are those that are aware, are transparent and are reflective. All of these values are fed by the one crucial skill that we all possess; that is to listen.

Listening is not passive, as leaders we should make sure we are approachable, walk the walk and not just talk the talk. True leaders who listen are present, approachable and accessible to all. Staff need to understand that they can talk openly, honesty and that their views will be heard. Dangerous cultures are bred when silence multiplies and staff who do the caring, don’t feel they can discuss what they see, question what perhaps feels wrong, and be supported to raise questions.

As leaders we should seek not just to understand the words of our colleagues but try and interpret why a question was raised in the first place, and what we can do with that information.

A quote by the 13th century poet Rumi, reminds us that: “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” This holds such truth even centuries later. We would do well to listen and learn.

Lord K Patel, Non Executive Director

“If I think about the great leaders that I’ve known throughout my career they all have one vital skill in common – they are all effective listeners and good communicators.

We live in a time of instant communication with people constantly sharing large amounts of information. But with so much information available, people often fail to listen and leaders talk at their staff teams, rather than engaging with them.

A good leader must be an active listener who takes the time to really engage and build relationships with their team. They may not always agree with everyone’s viewpoints but staff need to feel heard and understood, and leaders must demonstrate that they are open to new ideas.

Good leaders are also proactive and improve performance and support their staff teams by following up and providing feedback, ensuring clarity and removing any obstacles.

Ultimately, great leaders who listen and follow up not only earn the trust and respect of their staff, but also create great teams.”

Anthony Aigbe, Registered Manager Cygnet Lodge Lewisham

“According to Andy Stanley, an expert on leadership, leaders who do not listen will eventually be surrounded by staff who have nothing to say. A leader cannot display empathy or emotional intelligence if they do not listen to people around them.

Listening is the foundation for a therapeutic relationship and the same applies to relationships with staff in the workplace; the quality of a leader’s listening skills determines the quality of their influence.

Staff want and need to be heard; listening transmits respect and builds trust which in turn makes staff feel valued and more motivated. Staff are more committed and there is also a better team cohesion when staff feel that when they have issues to raise or discuss with their manager, they can do so and will be listened to.

As we all know, a valued, motivated and committed team will improve the care outcomes of service users, so listening is at the very core of better service delivery and improving the lives of our service users.”

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