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Your Team Isn’t Listening to You By Pam Marmon

5 Reasons Your Team Members Aren’t Listening to Your Ideas

We can learn a lot about listening from God’s Word.

In the Bible parable of the sower, Jesus describes a hardworking farmer who sows seeds in the land. Some seeds fall on fertile soil, while others fall in thorny land on the side of the road. Jesus skillfully linked visual images of everyday life to spiritual foundations that were rich in meaning and rooted in cultural context. His ability to connect and relate to people drew crowds by the thousands, who eagerly longed for His transformational message.

Jesus applied a storytelling technique to illustrate a deeply profound and vivid moral lesson, that speaks to our core existence and our longing for wisdom, prosperity, purpose, connection, and a meaningful life.

As a leader, like the sower, you may have diligently been communicating relevant messages through multiple channels, and yet you struggle to get engagement. You’ve likely wondered at times, Why aren’t my team members on board with my message?

Your answer may be tangled in a combination of thorny issues. Let’s take a look at five reasons why your team members aren’t listening so you can understand how to better reach their ears.

#1: It’s Not the Right Message

You may be communicating a complicated message that is disconnected from the overall messages that flow throughout the organization. Your message may be too vague or too detailed. People are confused by what you ask of them, and they ignore the message—or worse, they ignore you.

This disconnect happens when your message is not aligned with your organization’s purpose and mission. In other words, the story you are telling doesn’t make sense in the context of the organizational environment. It’s fragmented, out of place, and you’ve failed to make the connections between urgency for action and where the organization is going.

#2: It’s Not the Right Timing

This culprit has many victims. First you must consider, the timing of your messages.

In his book When, Daniel Pink addresses the importance of the timing of daily activities. He categorizes the day in three cycles: peak periods are best for analytical and focused work; trough periods are best for administrative work; and recovery periods are best for creative work. Be intentional about the timing of your messages so that your end receivers are in their prime state to hear them.

Finally, you need to consider organizational timing. If there are more significant changes, such as layoffs, taking place in your organization, your message will likely get lost. The sequence of large transformational messages within your organization is important to your end receivers. Be aware and mindful of your organization’s ecosystem so you can space important messages accordingly.

#3: You Are Not the Right Sender

Now this feels personal. Sometimes it is, but not always. According to the extensive research done by Prosci, employees expect to hear organizational vision messages from the executive leaders, while they expect messages about changes to their day-to-day work to come from their direct manager. This may be a question of adequate position and authority, or a question of trust and respect. Regardless, who sends the message is as important as the message itself.

#4: Your Organizational Culture Is Dysfunctional

You may have heard the expression, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This one may or may not be entirely in your control. People in your organization may have lost trust in the executive leaders and, as a result, disengaged from the work. Sick organizations have many symptoms of brokenness. Inefficient communication is just one among a slew of possible areas that need urgent attention.

#5: You Haven’t Told People What to Do

Some communications are well crafted, but miss an important component: they don’t outline step by step exactly what people need to do. If there is no specific action, your message won’t be heard and implemented.

Due to the large volume of daily information consumed, people are scanning your messages for what’s expected of them. If they can’t quickly identify that content, they will likely preserve brainpower for more pressing activities that require their action.

If you’re struggling to get your team members on board with your message, consider whether any of the five issues listed above might be occurring at your organization. Chances are high that somewhere along the journey, you missed a step, jumped too far, turned too fast, and went off course.

By addressing these problems and ensuring that the right person is sharing the right message at the right time, you can capture your team members’ attention and ensure that your words, like the sower’s seeds, are landing and growing into the transformational message you want them to be.


Pam Marmon is the CEO of Marmon Consulting, a change management consulting firm that provides strategy and execution services to help companies transform. This past was adapted from her book, “No One’s Listening and It’s Your Fault,” available NOW on Amazon!

This is the final post in a three part series:

1. Organizational Change

2. Cut through the Noise

3. Your Team Isn’t Listening to You

Learn more about the book in this video.


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