Welcome to the third post in our seven-part series on the “modern wastes” that are killing most companies’ productivity and profitability. Last week, we discussed degenerative moods. This week, we’ll examine the second silent killer—not listening. To truly listen does not mean merely hearing or paying attention. Listening is a specific type of active interpretation that shapes our realities. This largely unknown and certainly unrecognized skill is critical in the new business world. By blindly creating and/or tolerating working conditions in which people do not and often cannot effectively listen to one another, we kill productivity and profitability. This lack of listening can be the result of degenerative moods (e.g., institutionalized mistrust, resignation, or resentment), technology addiction (which can make it difficult for some people to actually talk to others), or a simple incompetence for speaking and listening. Regardless of the reason, if people are not listening to each other, accomplishing anything significant becomes extremely expensive, and making effective changes becomes all but impossible. According to the International Listening Association, more than 35 studies indicate that listening is a top skill needed for success in business. Yet, less than 2 percent of all professionals have had formal education or learning to understand and improve listening skills and techniques. Too many organizations today have created and tolerated a range of practices in which creativity, innovation, and the fundamental expressions of our thoughts and feelings about our work and our futures are ignored or spurned. This lack of listening is a tremendous source of waste. Shift Your Understanding If the popularity of social media has taught us anything, it is that people like to be heard. As human beings we value our own opinions, and we want others to value them as well. The same is true in business. Our clients, customers, partners, and employees expect us to listen to them. Rather than being told what they want, they expect us to listen as they tell us what they want. We must now shift our actions toward collaboration with customers, suppliers, and investors to create mutually beneficial relationships. All of this means knowing how to truly listen. We attune ourselves to other people, and together we build competence for speaking, listening, and building trust. This will require a dramatic shift in the way we train our leaders, managers, and team members, but it is the key to inventing new, more powerful futures together. Instead of tired practices like “active listening” (whereby one is taught to parrot back what someone says, which only shows that you heard what was said, not that you understood), our teams must develop a new set of competencies in which they learn to clarify what they interpreted in a conversation, not what they heard. Their interpretations are what matter, as their actions will be driven by their understanding of what they hear, not just the words.
Our mission is very simple. We intend to revolutionize the practice of management!
Central to our work is the belief that the world does not exist as a permanent fixed reality. We human beings are not merely passive observers. We are intentional players, inventors, designers, and creators of our world. And to accomplish anything, we depend on everyday coordination with others. This is where HP2 makes its mark.