Last month the entire Central Finance Management Group gathered for the company’s first ever Town Hall meeting.
Dr Sian Ineson, Managing Director said:
“In 2018 we found genuine collaboration become a powerful strategic advantage. We want to be as transparent and inclusive as we can, so it made sense to shift from smaller team meetings to one big, collective Town Hall. It was absolutely brilliant having everyone together to hear how the business is tracking, celebrate achievements, reward some deserving employees and host a Q&A session to answer any burning questions.”
Chris Bevan, Compliance Manager opened the meeting with a little about why he joined the business.
“One of the things that attracted me to this role and the company was the opportunity to affect change. We have a tremendous baseline that we can build on, and compared to our competitors, we have a really unique service proposition.”
Janinne Smith, Human Resources Manager launched some exciting new wellness initiatives aimed to provide team members with stress relief tools and techniques. In addition to fortnightly meditation sessions, Janinne announced that our quiet room is now kitted out with lego, mindful colouring-in, bluetooth speakers and a community library of books to read. We also have a whole suite of meditation and breathing exercises available on our intranet.
Sian Ineson also announced exciting changes to Learning and Development, with a complete refresh launching early this year.
“We’re really passionate about giving our team members opportunities to grow and develop, and the refresh will help align our induction and training programs to the way the business is evolving. To support face to face sessions, we’ll have loads of new online resources which will help increase access to these opportunities, as well as some new programs for our emerging leaders and the Power Users of our key software platforms.”
Overall the Town Hall was a great success, giving a broad overview of how the business has been performing and what’s coming up in the new year. With all of our leaders in one place, it also gave our teams the opportunity to ask questions and comment on anything that was discussed. The Town Hall meetings will now be held bi-annually.
Conscious listening is becoming a forgotten art. If we can’t train ourselves to actively listen to our customers, colleagues, suppliers, friends, family members or anyone else, how can we hope to understand them?
Why Don’t We Listen?
The fact is, it’s getting harder to listen. As a society, we are bombarded with sensory data from all manner of channels and wigits, which has reduced our ability to notice and appreciate things in life that are quiet or subtle. It has driven us to need constant stimulation, made us impatient and fostered a ‘cult of self’ mentality, encouraging an inflated sense of our own self-importance. Compounding this, we are no longer reliant on listening as a significant mode of recording information, and most schools don’t teach it. In summary, our cultural landscape places very little value on listening as a skill, and we are not being taught otherwise.
Benefits of Being a Conscious Listener (with a focus on those relevant to the workplace):
- you hear what’s being said, as well as the subtle things that add meaning but are not spoken
- people feel that they have been heard, which increases their satisfaction with the exchange
- it promotes a culture of respect, which has obvious benefits to all stakeholders
- you are more likely to reach the best outcomes, rather than relying on the usual persuasion by argument
- you create a space for other people to use, to express their own ideas or views, which they may not have voiced otherwise, often adding valuable insight from different personality types
- provides more opportunity and better reception of it, when you tactfully voice diverging opinions or views
- most importantly, you achieve a deeper level of understanding
How to be a Conscious Listener
Most literature available recommends a 2-phase approach, which is to a. practice listening exercises, and b. adopt a best practice approach to the listening process.
1. Listening exercises help to re-calibrate your body’s ability to appreciate the subtle sounds, they can include:
- Mindfulness walks, where you clear your head as much as you can and simply focus on the sounds you hear
- Sitting for 3 minutes of silence per day
- Focusing on a particular sound, and making an effort to enjoy it thoroughly (eg. water filling a bath tub, turning on a gas stove)
- Practice listening with different filters/perspectives (eg. as a colleague, as a competitor, as an examiner, as an intern)
2. Best practice listening process:
- Pay attention – make eye contact, avoid distractions, and unless you are the timekeeper or the chairperson do not interrupt the speaker. Watch their body language, and be mindful of your own.
- Show that you are listening – make small noises of acknowledgement like ‘ah’, ‘ok’, ‘yes’ or nod your head.
- Summarise what you have heard to ensure you have understood.
- Ask Questions.
- Respond, where appropriate – offer your own view or alternate information. Always assert your opinions respectfully.
In summary, if you are setting personal development goals for FY2018, spare a thought for including one on actively working on becoming a conscious and engaged listener. Everyone will thank you for it!