Top 10 killer questions to improve listening

As professional communicators, IC teams already understand the value of listening … but putting that into action can be a challenge.

Here are ten questions to ask to help you promote listening in your organisation.

What’s already in place to promote and facilitate listening?

An audit of any tools already in place to facilitate listening is a great place to start. You’ll understand where you are so you can plan where you want to get to.

What works and what doesn’t?

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! If there are effective tactics already in place … build on these to improve and expand listening.

What do employees think about listening as it currently exists?

Find out how employees feel about existing listening … do they see it as a box ticking exercise or as a genuine tool for them to feed back on issues that affect them?

How will the organisation benefit?

Understanding the benefits that improved listening will bring is important and is a great way to motivate people to get involved.

Who owns listening?

It’s important to have a champion who will put their weight behind the programme. Someone with a vested interest is likely to have a natural enthusiasm which will be invaluable.

Who’s doing the listening?

And whoever it is … what support do they need? Throwing people headlong into a live feedback session with a room full of disgruntled employees with no training or support will only end in disaster. Be sure to provide those who will be doing the listening with the tools and skills to succeed.

How are / will insights be shared and used?

Listening is only of any value if the insight it provides is shared and acted on. Decide how you will do this and tell the audience what they can expect.

What’s the right amount of listening and how will it be measured?

Consider what else is going on in the business and try to avoid times when the business is going to be consumed by the ‘day job’. Also – think about the number of participants you’ll need to make sure the feedback is really representative of views.

What are the right tactics?

IC professionals have a whole raft of tools at their disposal so consider what’s likely to work best … coffee in the canteen for an informal listening session, Feedback Friday events to encourage people to form the habit of asking questions through to panel discussions with senior leaders and employee / leadership forums as more formal approaches.

Is there a history of failed listening?

If there’s a catalogue of failed listening in the organisation, this needs to be addressed at the outset. Think about what you can do differently to overcome any ambivalence and tell employees why things will be different this time.

If you manage to answer at least some of these questions you’ll be in a good place to become a champion of listening in your organisation.