As the organization’s Learning & Development Partner, I have the challenging yet rewarding opportunity to spearhead our largest employee development initiative to date: The BitTitan Academy. This four-pronged curriculum of instructor-led trainings opened its doors in May with the inaugural workshop, "Communication 101: Tips for Effective Listening." Designed to create an opportunity for all employees, BitTitan Academy’s strategy is to provide an organization-wide, blended learning environment using a variety of easily accessible tools and resources to drive and accelerate the business strategy, create capability for the future, and maximize the potential of our people.
Launching TitanTalks with emotional intelligence in April and BitTitan Academy with effective communication was no accident.
A fascinating report by Google in 2017, Project Aristotle, identifies listening and communication skills as two of the most important soft skills to be effective in the workplace. We recognize creating an inclusive environment of trust and respectful communication in our workplace is key to employee satisfaction and retention. Furthermore, beginning with a foundational communication workshop such as effective listening creates a level playing field for all employees to begin their learning journey.
Effective listening is a fundamental tool and the cornerstone of communication.
While listening seems so basic and part of our everyday life, research indicates we recall approximately half of what was said to us. Right now, the distractions are endless – cell phones, social media, emails, people, places, things, life – that cause us to continually adjust or “flex” our focus. As a result, our listening skills have suffered.
Communication 101’s intended outcome was two-part: identify barriers to effective communication and equip participants with tools to improve basic attention and retention. Listening establishes the opportunity to increase productivity, create forums for transparent discussion, and reduce (ideally eliminate) miscommunication. Our ability (or inability) to accurately receive verbal and non-verbal messages drives our behaviors and reactions.
To add an element of surprise and unbeknownst to the audience, our Communications Manager Lisa Courtney and I had had a bit of fun role-playing traits of ineffective listening and integrating exercises such as String of Beads. Other components of the workshop included key takeaways, such as:
- Listening is different than hearing. Listening is intentional; we have the ability to engage or not to engage in it.
- Listening requires focus and attention, both acoustically and psychologically.
- Listening is a behavioral pattern that we learn at a young age. As a result, it is hard to change and requires self-awareness and self-management.
- Practicing Stephen Covey’s Five Levels of Listening
Communication 101 is the beginning of a broader series of communication workshops designed to create a more effective workplace at BitTitan. Upcoming topics in this series will include verbal and body language, business writing, giving feedback, and navigating tough conversations. We’ll continue to provide recaps and takeaways from those sessions here at Bits & Bytes for those driven parties looking to improve their own skills and working relationships. Stay tuned!