Running a Meeting
We've all heard the saying that “talk is cheap.” I'm not so certain I agree with that. One thing I've seen in our monthly staff meetings is just how valuable talking can be. The discussions we've had here have led to important policy changes that have resulted in a number of noticeable improvements in this company. So I firmly believe that talk is definitely not cheap; in fact, I think it is crucial to our continued success.
However, I have been thinking about another factor that is perhaps even more valuable than talking, a skill that we've unfortunately overlooked too often. And that's listening. All of us here are quite skilled orators. We know how to make our points clearly, convincingly, and eloquently. But how many of us are skilled listeners? More and more I'm convinced that active listening — making a concentrated effort to really listen to one another — is the only way we can get an accurate picture of what's happening in this company. It's also the best way for us all to work toward solving problems and to generate great new ideas.
So I've decided to make listening the focus of today's meeting; as I see it, listening, in some way or other, informs our agenda today in three important ways.
First, I've personally been doing a great deal of listening myself lately. I've spent the last two weeks visiting each and every department in our company, making it my main goal to listen to what our employees have to say. Based on what I heard, I have identified four issues that appear to be most in need of immediate consideration: one, the new computer system; two, the overtime hours issue; three, the development of the company Web site; and four, the loss of the D&R account.
Second, I want you to listen to each other in today's meeting as carefully as I have listened to all of you in the past two weeks. To that end, I have asked each department head to prepare a brief report that touches on the issues I just listed. While each department head reads that report today, make it your sole aim to listen. Really listen. Don't take notes. Don't make comments. Don't even ask questions. Just listen.
Third, when each department head is finished speaking, when we've all listened to what he or she has to say, then there will be time for talk. We can open the floor for questions and for open discussion. However, again, I'd ask that you all concentrate on those listening skills. Rather than just making a comment, or offering an opinion, listen to what the person before you has said. See if you can build on that topic and somehow incorporate it into your own statement. This will insure that we're all actively listening to one another.
I think we'll find these efforts at active listening make the meeting much more productive. Feel free, afterwards, to let me know what you think. I can guarantee, I'll listen to whatever you have to say.
Now, time for us to listen to our first speaker: Carol Jacobson from Financing. Go ahead, Carol, the floor is yours …