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Dulye & Co.

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Keys to Unlock Successful Workplace Communication

Whos Listening Now? Everyonewith Your Leadership


Linda Dulye, President/Founder, Dulye & Co.
Chances are you or someone you know was the recepient of a smartphone or tablet this past holiday season. Communication devices topped gift purchases. So, a lot more folks out there are connecting faster than ever and multi-tasking with greater ease. More texts! More emails! More tweets! More communication! Not exactly. There is a modern communication crisis despite the excess in information and communications technology, assisted devices and advances in modes and methods of communication, reports a recent study in the American Communication Journal. Speed is valued over quality for the sake of instant impact and brevity. At risk is an organizations listening capability. The focus, patience and interest required for actively listening is being chipped away by the rapid-fire bombardment of images, text and sounds. Consequences extend to a companys bottom line. Listening is a powerful business tool. More than half of respondents to a recent poll by my firm said having a boss who was a better listener would improve their workplace to a great extent. Our additional research showed that employees identify good listener in the top three qualities of a manager theyd most like to work for. By raising the bar on listening, you can improve work relationships between individuals and work groups. Use these six tips to activate a listening improvement campaign for the entire organization. 1. Validate the power of listening. Prove it. Measure the effectiveness of how your organization listens. My firm uses 180-degree, polling techniques with multiple-choice questions about the quality, quantity and impact of listening practices and capabilities. If your company cant handle a dedicated poll, find an existing measurement practice that you can build in several targeted, listening questions. Be sure your polling is inclusive by engaging all levels of the workforce. Data that is representative of your organizations dynamics and diversity withstands tough scrutiny. 2. Use data to make changes. Done right, measurement is a rallying force for changing current practices. Use poll results to identify performance gaps and follow-up with meaningful action plans for high-priority areas. Data from a clients listening poll signaled the need for change in the companys management development program. Feedback revealed that someone who follows up with questions was rated as the listening skill most valued by employees and managers, alike. In response, training curriculum was upgraded to include workshops and coaching in open and closed-ended questions, and how to use them to engage others. Everyone from the top down completed the training. And there was no abbreviated session for top executives. 3. Dont mistake silence as success. If invitations for feedback fail to draw response, take note and take action. I have worked with senior leaders who interpret the silence that often permeates live Q&A sessions during a Town Hall as a sign of success. As one confidently told me, Silence

2013 Dulye & Co. For more information contact Roger Gibboni I rgibboni@dulye.com I 845.987.7744 www.dulye.com

Dulye & Co. In the News: IABC CWB

means everyone got the message. That it was clear. Hardly. Silence is not golden. The voice of your workforce fuels improvement and innovation. By giving employees a reprieve from speaking up, you convert them into spectators bystanders and critics of operational plans. Silence stunts accountability something no organization can afford. 4. Publicize listening. Make listening a valued competency. By introducing listening sessions at a client, we gave headline status to an underutilized practice.These open dialogues united an executive with 15 front-line employees from diverse business areas. Gone were hefty presentation decks and drone monologues. Instead, participating associates received advance notice about a specific topic to be addressed and were tasked to come prepared to share their views and those of co-workers. Logistics were carefully planned to steer clear of stuffy executive conference rooms for more intimate, informal settings. Leaders spent more than half of the 60minute session in listen mode. The conversational format put employees at ease, and the personal follow-up by the leaderafter the meetinghelped them feel that their feedback was appreciated. Listening sessions gave employees a voiceand for leaders, they became a disciplined training ground for listening and an unfiltered forum for learning about their business from the bottom-up. 5. Ask questions. It prevents you from making assumptions. It prevents you from taking over a meeting or conversation. A questioning process can be a great equalizer by opening the door to a healthy give-and-take of ideas. People like to talk about themselves. Inviting them to do so helps to put them at ease during a conversation. Increase your use of open-ended questions, which gives someone the opportunity to explain things. For example: Tell me what you think..about our new software program or Whats one thing that we could do better to increase sales? Probing questions deliver insights, information and, ideally, ideas that can get team members more involved in solving problems and working together. 6. Finally, preserve the moment. Good listeners take notes, in their mind or on a notepad. They easily recall key points that really struck them by saying I heard you say.. They comfortably recap key messages by saying, If I understand you correctly, you believe that These approaches go a long way to honing skills and demonstrating interest. They also create powerful takeaways that can transform how people think and what they do. Dont settle for silence and dont presume the value of listening is inately understood. Coach managers at your organization to get out, connect and start listening. It will make themand youthe kind of leader that gets the most out of others with great returns. More tips coming your way with the third column in my Keys to Unlock Successful Workplace Communication series, when the spotlight shifts to accountabilityand how you can help managers create an environment that holds people accountable for their actions and behavior.

Linda Dulye is internationally recognized for helping many companies go spectator free. A former communications leader for GE and Allied Signal, Linda established Dulye & Co. in 1998 with a practical, process-driven approach for improving communications and collaboration through an engaged workforce a formidable competitive advantage, that she calls a Spectator-Free Workplace.

2013 Dulye & Co. For more information contact Roger Gibboni I rgibboni@dulye.com I 845.987.7744 www.dulye.com