Listen for a Change

June 03, 2020
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller
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This past week, we began a series of virtual listening sessions within Barry-Wehmiller.

Under “normal” circumstances, I prefer these sessions to be in person at one of our facilities. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt this was the best option to keep these sessions going.

I was able to listen to our team members as they spoke of adjusting to life once we enacted measures to keep them safe. I heard the emotion they expressed when talking about difficulties at home and their gratitude in the flexibility they were able to have to make sure their families were taken care of.

I listened to their joys and concerns. I listened.

It was a moving experience for everyone on the call and I am excited for the next one. It’s another example that from life’s challenges, good can come. When we began listening sessions, video conferencing wasn’t considered because we wanted to have an in-person, face-to-face connection. The challenges of COVID-19 made us adapt and it added a powerful new dimension to the conversations – bringing together global team members who wouldn’t necessarily talk with each other or share their experiences with one another. Team members from Shanghai to Hamburg to Wisconsin – sharing, talking, listening and learning from one another.

Although we were unable to be in the same room, we were still very connected. Most importantly, our team members were heard.

I have often said that listening is the most important thing a leader can do. But it transcends the leader role. Listening is the most important thing we, as humans, can do for one another. It shows empathy, it shows you care, and most importantly, it shows the person you are listening to that they matter. When done with the intent to not merely get the information you need, but rather to meet the needs of the other person and hear how he or she is feeling, listening allows us to connect and better understand each other. It builds empathy.

Are you listening to your family members, your friends, your fellow team members and your neighbors? Are you listening to someone you might not normally listen to? Are you hearing what they’re saying? If you are truly listening, are you able to feel their happiness and hurts, their excitement and anxiety?

There’s a lot of turmoil in the world today. When I take a step back, I think about a paragraph from Everybody Matters that I often share:

Everyone wants to do better. Trust them. Leaders are everywhere. Find them. People achieve good things, big and small, every day. Celebrate them. Some people wish things were different. Listen to them. Everybody matters. Show them.

Listening is the foundation. It’s where understanding and change begin. Now, more than ever, it’s time to listen.


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