Years ago I worked at a company that talked big about valuing the ideas of their employees. They’d set up meetings or call you in to the office to ask for a feedback on which products to purchase or on how the sales floor should be laid out.

Really all that consultation was really just lip-service though. The truly innovative ideas never actually happened. Oh sure they’d purchase a few more of the same old thing if you had a good case for it, but try something new…nope.

The really sad part is that they made all these decisions without truly being involved in the day to day of the business. Oh sure they sat in an office for the day, and when it was totally crazy they’d help out a bit. But mostly they’d sit and read magazines or purchase things online. These are the people that built the business from scratch and at one point really knew their customers, but just don’t anymore.

They were the young people pushing the industry, and now don’t listen to the young people that could help them continue to push the industry.

So what does listening to your employees look like? It looks like giving them an area of responsibility and letting them run with it. Sure get a report every month, and of course you decide on goals together for them to hit. But when they struggle you don’t pull it back, you sit down and coach them to excellence. You trust them to innovate and rejoice when they do.