Hear, Hear!

Have you ever been at an event where the audience responds to a toast by saying, “Hear, hear”? Or, have you been in a meeting where someone expresses a popular idea and the supporters respond, “Hear, hear”?

“Hear, hear” is an expression used to express approval for a speaker or sentiment. It is a shortened form of “hear him, hear him,” or “hear this, hear this.” It may have first been used in the House of Commons in England because applause was forbidden in the chambers of Parliament.

When you say, “hear, hear” it means you agree with what the speaker said, which requires listening by the hearer and effective communication by the speaker. In business, these are two critical skills for effective executives.

Executives Need to Listen

There are many ways for executives to listen. The easiest is to interact with employees. Periodically, walk through work areas and observe and engage with people. See what they’re doing and how they do it. Ask them what resources they need to do their work. One of my favorite questions to ask is, “At the end of the day, how do you know you’re doing a good job?” The answers will reveal whether your employees’ priorities are correct and if they are engaged in their work.

This also applies to customers and suppliers. Visit them, preferably by yourself. Don’t take salespeople or buyers with you, because that can influence what you hear. Develop your relationship with customers and suppliers, and most of all listen. Ask what your company is doing that prevents them from providing excellent products and services. Ask how you can be a better customer or supplier.

During a consulting engagement, I visited a company’s largest supplier (in terms of dollars spent) and asked, “When was the last time they visited you?” The VP of Sales and the General Manager looked at each other and replied, “Never!” There were a number of ways the supplier could have helped my client reduce costs that my client simply wasn’t aware of. A visit would have paved the way for greater profitability and a better partnership.

Ensuring Communication

In three recent engagements focusing on capacity for growth, managers identified communication as the number one weakness within their companies. People didn’t know the vision (where the company is going in the short term, and why), didn’t know how they were doing, and management didn’t know what they needed to do to support the process.

One way to encourage communication is a to start every day in each department with a five-minute stand-up meeting and ask four questions:

  1. Is everyone here? If you have teams, the team members all need to be present or the team itself will underperform. If anyone is missing for any reason, bring in temps or move people to support the process.
  2. How did we do yesterday? Measure this against expectations and plans.
  3. What do we need to do today?
  4. What resources do we need or what stands in the way of doing that?

That’s it. These four simple questions can improve communication and change the way the company performs.

Another way to improve communication is to be sure everyone knows where the company is going and why by developing a vision for the next two to three years. Are you planning to grow? Add capabilities? Expand geographically? Add new products? Drive continuous improvement? Implement partnerships? My forthcoming book, Moving Into The Express Lane: How to Rapidly Increase the Value of Your Business talks about aligning the vision with your ocmpany’s operations strategy.

For a business to succeed, executives need to prioritize communication every day. Hear, hear!

© 2018 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved