Whenever I started a new job, I would schedule one-hour meetings with my colleagues to learn about the organization, their job, their goals, and how I could help them. Rather than feeling like I was wasting time in meetings, I felt like this productively launched my time at the organization. I was able to hit the ground running with more background and direction than I would have had otherwise.
More and more I hear CEO’s, VPs, and directors using this tactic. This is also a great tactic to use externally. Association execs announce they are going on a listening tour. Imagine what you can learn by listening to your members share their thoughts, ideas, goals, and problems. Think of what is to be gained by meeting them face to face and seeing them in their workspace, meeting their peers, and perhaps touring their offices.
If dozens of plane tickets are out of reach or if you can’t spend the time crisscrossing your state, don’t worry, there is another option. Conduct your listening tour by phone. There are even a few benefits you get by using a phone that you do not get in face to face meetings.
Phone conversations can be more objective. The other person can not read and interpret or misinterpret your facial expressions, so they do not feel the need to alter their comments to match.
You can take notes. Sure, you can make notes sitting at someone’s desk, but these notes are brief. On the phone, you can type as they talk and capture the full meaning of their comments.
Patterns reveal themselves. When you take detailed notes and review them from conversation to conversation patterns start to appear. Sometimes we hear only what we want to hear but when we take detailed notes and review them later everything of importance shows up.
If you are short on time and money, no worries, you can still conduct a very informative listening tour via the phone.