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Sometimes the most interesting thing about running a business is the way that your role changes. What typically begins with just one person, getting their hands dirty in the supply chain and testing the market quickly turns into the job of management. Hiring employees is about eliminating the weaknesses in your business. Bad at the bookkeeping? Simply hire an accountant. Client management taking up too much time? Hire, hire and hire again. It’s an inevitable part of the expansion of a business that certain roles will be offered to your employees, and with that comes a general acceptance that you are the leader of the company, responsible for all strategic decisions made therein.

The trouble with that mentality comes when an employer becomes deaf to the thoughts and suggestions of their employees. Research has indicated that the business leaders of the future (like the ones in your employ) fundamentally believe in less vertical power structure, wherein each and every employee can pitch in with ideas and criticisms of the company as is. This doesn’t negate the need for strong leadership, but it does mean that those employees who are most familiar with your business value the opportunity to point out inefficiencies and missed opportunities.

Your employees are often the membrane between the market and your business, and as such will have a finely tuned understanding of the waters that your business sails on. Getting to know your employees opinions can prove as effective as a customer satisfaction survey, revealing insights into your customers that no top down examination could.

It isn’t just your business which benefits from hearing the thoughts of your employees though. Employee engagement surveys indicate that employees who believe their opinions are heard and understood are less likely to leave their position, happier in their work and feel part of a greater whole within the business. This kind of feedback structure is in place at some of the most successful organisations in the world, and looks likely to continue expanding out into the wider world of business.

Your employees are a goldmine of information, so if you’re looking for a way to better understand the challenges of your business and illuminate the path forward, don’t underestimate the power of finding out what they think