I was recently discussing organizational change with a former classmate whose organization is currently undergoing a major customer service improvement initiative. He suggested that the effective execution of this initiative would transform the way we do business and enhance our customer experience. The end goal of this initiative is for all customers to truly be “wowed” by exceptional customer service. He went on to say that being a part of this type of comprehensive organizational planning with the CEO and Sr. Management team involves intensive research, brainstorming and discussion to create and execute on an effective organizational strategy.
With many great minds in the room, and with many differing ideas and perspectives on what will create success; it is important that everyone around the boardroom table is given a chance to be heard and provide input. The CEO in this situation played the role of the facilitator, listening to all suggestions, providing feedback and eventually creating a structured action plan going forward. My former classmate indicated that it was only through effective listening, that all stakeholder suggestions were heard and recognized by their team-members. This story is a clear reminder for any business and leader of the importance of “listening” in planning, communicating, facilitating and leading important projects and members of your team. Below are 5 quick tips to encourage innovation through effective listening that you can apply in your business:
1) Create a meaningful connection: in the above example, the CEO was able to relate to his team-members by not doing all of the talking. He would stop, make eye contact and be fully engaged in each team-members presentation.
2) Encourage confidence building:
Does each member around your boardroom table have the
right or time to contribute their thoughts on a particular topic? Combat team-members uncertainty by asking for their thoughts and by attending to their ideas.
3) Learn from their messages: Talk show host Larry King once stated that “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” How can your team’s ideas contribute and add value to your current way of thinking about a challenge or opportunity?
4) Practice Daily: Take the time at the end of the day to reflect on the things that you have heard that day and how you can improve your leadership through listening in future situations.
5) Create an Action Plan: Effective listening will encourage an abundance of fresh perspectives and innovate ideas. Create a plan to put some of these into action and show your team that they were heard.