209 - The Listening Tour That Went Wrong - John Laurito

209 – The Listening Tour That Went Wrong

A listening tour is a set period of time where the new manager meets with as many key stakeholders as possible to ask questions, hear concerns, identify barriers, and build rapport.

Whether you’re trying to better your organization for your employees or looking to improve your services for your consumers, following through after a listening tour is a MUST for any business. Today, host John Laurito tells a story about a listening tour gone wrong after the leaders decided not to provide a resolution. So if you’re a leader who wants to better your business, ask your people; they’re the heart of the organization, after all. Moreover, don’t forget to take action.

[0:00] Intro

[0:37] The backstory

[3:05] The listening tour

[5:23] And then nothing but crickets

[7:45] Leaders should take the pulse of your organization

[8:42] What A-players need

[9:49] The lesson: take action

[11:22] Outro

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John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good after running companies small and large for the last 20 years. Today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name’s John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic. What makes the best leader so good? 

John Welcome to tomorrow’s leader! All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader-related related to leaving yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito your host today. And as you may be able to tell, my voice is a little not quite where it is because I’m dealing with some kind of allergy thing or whatever. So not fun, but trying to lead myself through this. In any event, I’ve got a message to share. I thought it was important to get out and share it. And this came from a conversation I had with a top leader in this organization. 

Unidentified Now this organization, I’m not going to share the name. I know and a lot of my business blunders, I do. But in this case, because I don’t want, I want to protect the sources, so to speak. I’m just going to give the the the information and the description of the scenario. And you may or may not be able to figure out the company. But in any event, this is a leader that is a top leader at this firm. This is a firm that has a presence all over the certainly the country in different parts of the company are all over the world. So are different places in the world. I should say in this. This individual was a top or is a top leader in this organization. A leader who has turned around parts of this organization in a major, major way. 

John So needless to say, this isn’t a player. The organization and I was talking to him and he was in a position now of looking at other options and exploring very seriously other careers, other companies and making a move. And I asked them what was what’s the reason? Like, What are you? You’ve had a lot of success with this company. What’s the reason that you’re now at this point, especially when you’re at the top or close to it? What’s the reason you’re looking at making a move? And he said, You know what? He said, there’s a number of things, and he listed off a few different things, but on a very short list what was at the top of the list? He said, You know what the tipping point was in the the the overall feeling he had is this is a company that just doesn’t really care to make the changes that it needs to make. 

John This is a company that’s gone through a lot of difficulties, issues with regulators, issues with customers losses, major brand damage due to certain things that were going on within the culture of this organization. So it’s Neal, it’s it’s important to recognize this is a company that really needed and has needed to make a dramatic turnaround for many years. And this leader was part of trying to do this, but realized that there was only so much he could do. And it was just kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. So the company went around in and basically said, Listen, we’re going to do it, we’re going to do a listening tour. We want to take, you know, several months go around to every spot in the country. This was in the within the US and we want to listen to our people. We’re not going to do much talking. We’re literally our purpose with this listening tour is to find out how people feel and what are the problems that need to get fixed. And not only did they do this, but they really big deal that he said they advertise that they promoted it. Hey, we’re doing this big listening tour. 

John And what we’re going to do from this listening tour is we’re going to make changes. We’re going to fix the problems. But first, we want to hear firsthand from you. What are the things that we need to do and what are the problems we need to fix? And how do we make this a great place to work and ultimately a great place for not only you, but a great place where we can impact clients and customers in the best way possible? OK, good. That’s actually great. Really great. I think more companies need to do stuff like that. So they big deal this thing. Everybody is ready. They went around the company and they execute, went around the country. Rather, they executed this. They have their teams of people asking questions. It was truly a listening tour. What came from this listening tour was 12 very specific items and areas that they needed to take action on one very specific problem areas that could be addressed and needed to be addressed. Perfect. 

John That’s exactly what you want a listening tour for, right? Purposes, find out. Let us take the pulse of the organization. Let us find out from the people the heartbeat of this organization. What are the things that we need to focus on? Not from our perspective in the ivory tower, but you’re in the trenches. What’s going on? What do we need to fix? So this is a great place to work and you feel like you can make the impact that you know you can make and we can make groups. So in any event, always good, always good, right? They did it. They got all this great feedback. 12 key priorities. They. Immediately afterwards, broadcast, Hey, here’s what we heard you say, we appreciate your participation and we will take action on it. Then crickets. Nothing. Nothing. Literally nothing. 

John Now this leader told me this tour ended six months ago, and since then there has been nothing. There’s been no changes. There’s been no plans, no written. Hey, here’s what we’re doing about this. No updates, no follow up, no communication. It’s like the listening tour didn’t happen. It was like the listening tour that never was. Really, it was an exercise to make people feel like their voice was important. But wow, what a that. You might as well not even do it because they would have been better off not doing a listening tour because then at least they would not have taken people down this road of they thought it was like a bait and switch, or else they were thinking that they were going to take action on their ideas. And we value your opinion. 

John That’s what they said. But their actions told a totally different story. Their actions basically said, Listen, we know we have a problem. We want you to feel like we’re addressing and we want you to think and feel that your opinion really matters and we want you to think we’re going to do something about it. But we’re not willing to, in reality, because we know how to fix the problem. We know what the problems are. But we know that if we try to solve the problems from the ivory tower that you’re not going to feel great about that. So let’s incorporate you into this, make you feel like you are part of the solution. And let’s not do anything with it. 

John That’s in essence what happened. It backfired. It was worse than never doing a listening tour to begin with. And now this top-rated ranked in the country leader who had been responsible for some dramatic turnarounds in his areas is now going to leave. Think about that. Is that crazy? Get a top leader and this was the thing. It wasn’t compensation. It wasn’t the fact it wasn’t the business that they were in. It wasn’t that he was got bored. It wasn’t. He was overworked. It wasn’t his boss. It wasn’t the, you know, whatever it was, the fact that the company wasn’t doing what it said it was going to do. It just was demonstrating that it didn’t care and people’s voices didn’t matter. Crazy. So my message today is the most important thing, one of the most valuable things you can do is take the pulse of your organization. 

John The leaders that think they have all the answers are like dinosaurs. Honestly, they don’t exist and they don’t exist for long. Those types of leaders ultimately fail the leaders that have all the answers to everything. Nobody wants to be a part of an organization like that. Now, the people that may are the key players, maybe some B players, but not the players, the top people, they don’t want to be in an organization like that. They just they’ll end up leaving it, and they probably won’t even tell you. That’s the reason that they’re leaving. Once they leave, that’s how people vote. They vote with their feet. They might nod their head. You may not even know they’re unhappy. But ultimately, then one day comes and they resign and they go somewhere else where they feel like they will be able to be heard and that they can have a greater impact. 

John Think back to my episodes. I’ve talked about a number of times a players need three things. They need to feel like they are growing and getting better. They need to feel like they’re making an impact, not just an impact, but the biggest impact that they can possibly make and they know they can make. And third, they need to feel valued and important and recognized. If those three things are not happening, you run the risk of losing your best people. I don’t care if you’re a coach on a soccer team or you’re running a billion-dollar organization, you run the risk of losing your top people. If you are not doing and helping and fulfilling and investing in those three things helping people grow, helping ensure that they can make the biggest impact possible and making sure that they feel valued and important. 

John There’s no greater way easier way to make somebody feel un valued and unimportant than to ask them a question, get their feedback and not do anything with it. Nothing. C. took the whole organization across the country. You basically went across the country, did a tour telling people how little you value their opinion. You’re going to take their time to waste their time. Ask them for feedback that you have no intention of doing anything with. Unbelievable. So I couldn’t believe that. So another lesson from this? Yes. Do the listening tours, but take action? If you’re not willing to take action, do the follow up, which is the hard stuff, then don’t do the listening tour. Don’t don’t let people lead people to believe that that their voices is important when in reality it’s not. And I think, fortunately, that that the listeners of this show know enough because you’ve listened that to this show, you know the importance of listening. 

John That’s that’s critical for a leader. You have to gain feedback from your people and your customers and your consumers. That’s the heartbeat of your organization. It’s not just the stuff. The ideas that are in between your two years doesn’t work that way. That’s that’s a one-person show and you can’t build a big organization with a one-person show. It just doesn’t work. You can try. That’s just not going to work. So Native Netivot, there’s a business blender for you. The names have been admitted for the protection of the people, the sources and the people involved. But I don’t think you need the name, and some of you may be able to figure it out. So, in any event, I hope this was helpful. 

John As always, greatly appreciate your tuning in, sharing, subscribing and giving me suggestions on content and guests. I’ve got some great guests shows coming out. Really cool stuff and all different industries start-up businesses and all kinds of stuff. So stay tuned and go down below. Give a five-star review, please. That helps the analytics of this and helps make sure other people get a chance to hear these shows and see the content. So thanks again. And look forward to seeing you next time. Bye. 

John Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader for suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching, reach me at John@johnlaurito.com. Once again, that’s John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, Lead on!

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