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Listening – What You Don’t Learn in Kindergarten

People listening

As I close in on my 18th year of employment here at HealthInsight, I’ve been reflecting on the many experiences I’ve enjoyed and the lessons I’ve carried with me from year to year. The lessons have been so plentiful, to quantify would be like trying to count the blades of grass on my front lawn. I see now that some lessons have stood out – lessons that served as building blocks and pivotal moments. One of these building blocks surfaced very recently during a series of visits to the HealthInsight offices that my supervisor and I coined as “the listening tour.”

This tour didn’t include any rock bands, playlists or backstage passes – its sole mission was to listen. You see, this is a particularly important time for our organization. Not only have we recently merged with Qualis Health, another like-minded organization, we are also approaching the final year of a five-year contract cycle in our Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization program. Now more than ever we felt it was an important time to take pause and listen to staff and learn about the pebbles in their shoes.

The listening tour gave me the privilege to meet with more than 40 staff from five of our HealthInsight offices in Salt Lake City, Portland, Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Seattle. What amazed me most was how grateful staff were that we made the trip to their cities, to meet them in person, and to be present with the purpose of learning about what mattered to them most.

We learned a lot, and the staff were incredibly gracious and hospitable. Staff members shared insights, personal observations and experiences, and after about 30 hours of listening and roughly 100 pages of notes, what I learned surprised me. Not because I didn’t know what to expect (because I didn’t), but because I underestimated how much this exercise would impact how I felt about my fellow co-workers and the organization. At the highest and most intimate level, this is what I learned:

  • Being present matters – face time is the real deal
  • The simple act of listening builds trust and personal connections
  • Carrying somebody else’s word or message comes with an enormous sense of responsibility
  • Passion and vision equals commitment and belief
  • HealthInsight is filled to its rim with passionate and talented staff members

This was truly a rewarding experience. The hardest part will surely be in the follow-up and action steps. The opportunity now is all ours. We’ve identified the pebbles. Now it’s time to shake out our shoes.

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