Lending an Ear to Your Employees

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“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people,” said Woodrow Wilson, Former President of the United States.

Any great organization listens to its people and its employees. For leaders and managers, listening is the most important skill – listening to the customers to get great feedback and improve a product, and listening to your team so you can remove barriers and help them do the best work of their lives.

Intuit has an abundance of programs – both formal and informal – that help them listen to our their employees. To truly connect with employees, the Vice President & Managing Director Vijay Anand regularly hosts energizing conversation sessions at work called “VChat over Coffee”.

He opens by sharing a personal moment of truth, a life lesson or a passion and encourages everyone else to start sharing similar stories. This platform also presents an open window for employees ask Vijay questions about any aspect of work, share opinions, and offer suggestions.

During a recent VChat, Vijay began as usual by sharing a turning point in his life before inviting others to share their own stories. Many moving stories were shared that day.

Dimpy Sharma shared a wonderful one about a recent trip to Chitradurga district near Bangalore, India, where he met Jyothi Raj, the renowned climber.  Jyothi’s story is an inspirational one – a poor man with a difficult childhood, Jyothi became famous thanks to his climbing feats. What makes him extraordinary is that he is still a humble, rooted human and takes care of 27 children so that he can give them a better life than the one he had.  Hearing his story made Dimpy think about the privileged life we all live and motivated him to reflect on how he can do more to give back to others who are not so fortunate.

Dhanraj KB shared the story of how his wife and he went through a rebirth experience after falling into a crevasse in Rohtang Pass while on their honeymoon, they slid into a tunnel of freezing water and ice and were miraculously rescued by a few soldiers who were alerted by an elderly couple.  This episode drew attention to the power of people helping each other in times of need.

Everyone was very forthcoming, be it when sharing personal stories or feedback on what they were proud of at Intuit and what could be better.  Apart from some intelligent, constructive, thought-provoking feedback, employees also shared the aspects of Intuit India they find most inspiring: examples included the culture of putting people first, caring and giving back, emphasizing a healthy work-life balance, the strong customer focus, and the use of whitespace time to innovate.

Vijay personally finds the VChat sessions more energizing than any other operating mechanism and activity on his calendar.  “It is great”, he says, “to see how all of us are able to come together, make connections and share openly. This truly makes Intuit unique. The next time we see each other on the corridor, on the elevator or in the café, we can feel even more at home.” How can your organization enable its employees to share their stories so openly?



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