The Holdsworth Group - May 2019


Volume 1 • MAY 2019

2 EARS + 1 MOUTH = 1 UNDERUTILIZED DESIGN Aim to Listen Twice as Much as You Talk!

both the volume and the quality of output has increased exponentially. Another benefit is that their employees are finally taking ownership, freeing their leaders to actually grow the business. Here are some ideas that have manifested for other companies who’ve tried it: • Wholesale changes to archaic customer service practices • Creation of project-bid teams made up of marketing, sales, and service reps to ensure workable delivery deadlines • Changes to purchasing patterns, resulting in significant cost savings • Employee/management teams that collaboratively create specs for capital equipment purchases • Creation of an award-winning client service website • New and different marketing ideas • Development of new profit centers • A renewed sense of purpose after employees knew they were being listened to It’s time to utilize the full potential of the tools you’ve been given and improve your listening ability as a leader. If you listen more and use the insights you gain to improve your effectiveness, you will ultimately be able to outsmart, outmaneuver, and outgrow your competition. If I can be of help to you or your leadership team, please connect with me. Get in touch at

I n today’s overcrowded, constantly moving, and overly public world, it is imperative that leaders take a step back and begin to use their original input-output devices — better known as the ears and mouth —more effectively. Look in the mirror, and you will see that not a lot has changed from the original design of Human 1.0. We still have two ears to absorb information and one mouth to regurgitate it. Of course, we’ve also developed two opposable thumbs, which started out as an advancement but has now become problematic with cellphone usage. In short, our ‘evolution’ now causes us to spew out more than we take in, resulting in miscommunication and misunderstanding on a massive level. After witnessing this happen to me and others all around me, I made a firm commitment to return to my roots: listening, absorbing, and observing more. Additionally, I am spending far less time texting and scrolling through social media. The other day, I actually had to go look for my phone! From a leadership perspective, more time spent with your team members and clients in a state of active listening and observation will provide a lot of free advice and direction, helping you improve what you do, or even create something new. Over the years, I’ve found that simply asking questions and sincerely listening to the answers provides a wealth of information. Solutions are found by asking team members about the issues they are facing in their specific roles. Then, as the leader, our job is to eliminate barriers and give the team the tools or training they need to help them do the best job possible.

The process is simple: Sit down with your employees for a candid discussion, ideally one-on-one and out of the office. The larger the company, the harder this is to do. You may have to resort to small groups of 5–10 people instead. In a small business, meeting with a single employee for coffee, lunch, breakfast, or any other 30–45-minute session works. I strongly advise you to avoid dinner or heading to a bar. I’ve found that a diner serves as a great location for these daytime meetups. Before you start these one-on-ones, let everyone know ahead of time and encourage them to be honest. Then, once you sit down to talk, start with some basic chitchat to help them feel comfortable before asking the Five Critical Questions . Be sure to stick to the following list to get good, multifaceted feedback. 1. As a company, what are we doing poorly? 2. What am I, or what is management, doing that gets in your way? 3. As a company, what are we doing well? 4. What can I, or what can management, do to make your job easier? 5. And here’s the million-dollar question: If time and money were not factors, what would you stop, start, or change that can help us do better for our clients? Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to coach several business leaders through this process of improving their own active- listening capabilities. After asking the Five Critical Questions, they’ve all attested that their level of communication with employees is at an all-time high, and that



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