Conducting A Listening Tour
- MAXIMIZE PERFORMANCE
Starting a new leadership role, or with a new organization can come packed with fear and anxiety. Will you meet the expectations of your new boss, or your new employees? What areas need improving? What inspires your new coworkers? Will you fit in with the current culture? On top of your personal fear and anxiety we know employee’s fear new leadership is being brought in to an organization to start making changes. Are their jobs on the line? Will they like your leadership style? During your first 100 days we recommend a focus on information gathering and relationship building. A listening tour will help you succeed in both areas.
MAKE LISTENING YOUR TOP PRIORITY
A listening tour is a lot like it sounds; specific time set aside to meet with people and listen to them. The only goal of a listening tour to is gather as much information as possible within the set aside timeframe, no decisions are made, nor actions taken during this time. A listening tour can be conducted when a new leader has entered an organization, role, or department. Listening tours can also be used for getting to know a niche of customers, or part of a business you aren’t familiar with, and any time gaining new insight, perspective, or recommendations about a particular issue would be valuable. Using the listening tour as a tool, a new leader can strategically gather information about the organization’s culture and get to know the individuals that work there.
When you make listening your priority, you show people you value their advice and work to build a positive reputation within the organization. Before getting a feel for key issues, take time to build relationships and ask people about their personal interests and passions. It’s not uncommon for these questions to be asked in return so be ready to give real, authentic answers. Ask the most important or relevant questions last, after people have had a time to warm up. Starting your first 100 days by conducting a listening tour will show your new coworkers you are eager to have a relationship with them, grow your expertise, and set the example of a culture that values other’s opinions.
CONDUCT A LISTENING TOUR IN 5 STEPS
- Must be a 1 to 1 conversation, no group-think or passive participation
- If you are new at an organization, seek to speak with as many people as you can
- Other department leaders, all team members, departments that have felt ignored, etc.
Start with Why
- Being clear is critical, explain your reason why the listening tour is being scheduled
- Use the key words: advice, insight, and guidance
- Explain to those you are meeting with that this will be one of many meetings, they are not being singled out
Schedule Meetings & Plan Questions
- Based on the scope or urgency, schedule meetings during your allotted time frame for the listening tour
- Ask each participant the same set of questions
- Submit the questions in advance to allow time to think of valuable answers
Focus on Listening
- Do not make decisions or act before the tour is completed
- Complete all scheduled conversations, there could be valuable information in the very last one
- Try to avoid talking or interrupting besides asking questions
- Questions we recommend asking include:
- What is going well for you?
- What are things about the organization you would like to change?
- What are things we should keep the same?
- What would you most like to see me do?
- Do you have any other concerns?
- What would you do if you were in my position?
- Is there anyone else with valuable insight you recommend I have this conversation with?
Reflect & Report
- After all meetings send thank you notes or emails to participants
- Reflect on all the information gathered
- Report out any decisions to be made, focus on being transparent and explaining the reason why