4 Ingredients for Successful Listening Sessions

how to conduct a listening session

4 Ingredients for Successful Listening Sessions

Before embarking on an initiative to transform your institution’s enterprise systems, begin by listening to the people who will be impacted by change. Conducting listening sessions with internal and external stakeholders can not only help you identify the requirements for a new system, but it can also engender trust, buy in, and long-term support from the people who will make or break the initiative’s success.

More than two decades of experience has shown us that successful listening sessions share these four characteristics:


1. Inclusion and engagement

  • Invite input and feedback from the broadest subset of stakeholders possible, including students, administrators, academic leaders, faculty, and all who want to participate.
  • Incorporate any relevant past assessment work to minimize duplicated efforts, reduce stakeholder fatigue, and shorten the timeline to completion.
  • Engage those who are at the heart of the work and understand what it’s really like to use and work around the current system to deliver services and meet student, institutional, and state expectations.
  • Listen to the voices of your internal and external stakeholders, consider their unique needs, and synthesize that with your institution’s need to position for growth and increase effectiveness.


2. Open minds

  • Assemble a team with the broadest and deepest experience available, representing both individuals capable of in-depth data analysis and current and former practitioners who have led institutional transformation efforts to ensure a real-world approach to recommendations.
  • Identify, understand, and retain the values and characteristics that make your institution a unique option for students.
  • Be open to hearing from the community — their ideas, aspirations, and goals for these efforts — to fully engage and collaboratively develop the recommended solutions with community support balanced against the institution’s fiscal and operational realities.
  • Gather and consider all perspectives using the institution’s strategic direction and industry trends as a filter.
  • Create a safe space to dream big.


3. Respect

  • Give all who want to speak an opportunity to do so.
  • Respect the work, decisions, and challenges of the past while working to reimagine a sustainable, long-term future.
  • Honor your institution’s culture and differences, which attract and retain the commitment of those who associate with the institution, while also focusing on streamlining operations to support future student, academic, and economic success.


4. Excellence

  • Deliver a transformation vision that reflects the voices of your stakeholders, the expertise and guidance of industry experts, and a model that will place your institution on solid footing for the future.
  • Drive all stakeholders to overcome the challenges of the past and excel in meeting the expectations of the legislature, board, and community for operational excellence and competitive advantage.
  • Continue communicating with stakeholders to show them how their feedback is contributing to the transformation process.


Need help listening to your people?

Just as you teach your students to be independent and objective, CampusWorks provides independent and objective evaluations so, together, we can identify new (and improved) ways to work.