Liz Reyer: Listening Is The Critical First Step In Bringing Work Groups Together

By Liz Reyer
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Business coach Liz Reyer shares her best tips on how to best communicate with your team in the workplace.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Q: As part of my job, I am working to help unify a number of different work groups around some consistent processes. They all have different workplace cultures and have developed their own unique ways to get their work done. How do I help bring them together without forcing the change down their throats?
-Lynette, 48, vice president, marketing

A: First, listen.
The quickest path to failure is through pushing an agenda without understanding the current state. Follow the direction of savvy politicians and leaders, setting up “listening sessions.” In these small group meetings, ask people for their thoughts about their organizational culture, their approach to change, their point of view on their current process, and other related topics. You should do very little talking. Ask clarifying questions and probe to get at deeper dynamics, and avoid challenging them or debating their points. It can be hard to stay neutral, especially if you have a strong perspective yourself. But arguing will come off as defensive and you’ll appear insincere in asking for their insights.

After you have spoken with all groups, sift through your notes and look for themes. Notice preferences about communication and new process implementation, and think about ways the teams are both similar and different in terms of culture.

Move next toward a greater unity. One powerful step would be to have a combined meeting across teams where you report back on what you’ve learned. The two-way street will build trust in you and your intentions. Then when you hit bumps along the way, you will be more likely to get the benefit of the doubt. Note: it would be ideal to do this in person, but if your work teams are dispersed, at least set up a WebEx.

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *