A ‘Listening Tour’ is a way for leaders to engage their organization in a conversation.  The members of a leadership team or committee agree on a set of questions and commit to having conversations with a certain number of people. Listening Tours are a useful replacement or supplement to employee surveys.   (See our article on Leadership Listening Tours for more information.) Good questions are vital to a successful Listening Tour.  Here are some suggestions to help you get started. Before the Listening Tour… questions for the team to discuss:
  1. What’s the issue we’re focusing on?
  2. What is most perplexing and frustrating about [issue]? What don’t we understand… or wish we could figure out?
  3. What’s the ‘elephant in the room’ regarding [issue]? What do people think, but don’t talk about openly?
  4. With this in mind, what are three good, open-ended questions we could ask to get people talking (and thinking) about [issue]?
  5. Who will we talk to? Who is involved in [issue]?  Who has the most to say about [issue]?  Are there folks who are often overlooked?  How can we include them?
Good Listening Tour questions:
  1. How have you been affected by [issue]?
  2. What’s most frustrating or difficult about [issue] for you?
  3. When did we get [issue] right? Tell me about a time when [issue] wasn’t an issue.
  4. Who handles [issue] really well?What do they do that makes them stand out?
  5. How does your supervisor handle [issue]?What do they do well / not well?
  6. In your opinion, why is [issue] important to management? What does management really wantwhen it comes to [issue]?
  7. What’s the thing management doesn’t getabout [issue]?
  8. What would you do about [issue] if you were in charge?
  9. What’s your role in [issue]? What do you need to change to address [issue]?
  10. Who has the biggest influence over the way people think and feel about [issue]?
After the Listening Tour… questions for the team to discuss:
  1. How did it go? How many conversations did you have?  (If you didn’t do the assignment, what got in the way? What out-prioritized doing this work?)
  2. How did people react? What did you learn from the way this went?
  3. What did people say? What stood out to you?  What themes did you notice?
  4. How do we contribute to people thinking and feeling this way?
  5. What could we change about the way we work in order to change the way people think about this issue? We’re too busy for any new or extra work… what are we already doing that we could do differently?
  6. What other questions do we have?What else do we want to learn about [issue]?
Interested in learning more?  Ready to add Listening Tours to your team’s tool kit?  We’re ready to help.  About the author: Andy Erickson is a principal and CTO at Humanus Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in people-centric leadership. He can be reached at aerickson@humanus-solutions.com

One thought on “Twenty-one Listening Tour Questions

  1. Hello, please tell me more about listening tours. I am interested in applying this type of methodology to gain a deeper understanding of our organization.

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