Are We Paying Attention?

Posted by Henry Ramirez on Mar 18, 2015


 Many of us spend our lives listening to a seemingly endless stream of information from radio, television, the internet and social media outlets, from our co-workers and significant others – so much so that it becomes a challenge to focus on what is really important. I am guilty of letting my mind wander as my kids relate some mundane (in my mind anyway) event that has happened to them at school. I usually pay the price later on when the subject comes up again and I’m asked if I remember. No such luck, I can’t remember a thing, because I wasn’t paying attention.

At Graniterock, we believe in creating a “family- centered” work place, and for generations our focus on People has guided us. We have experienced many challenges over the years, and have seen the aggregates, materials and construction business evolve and change, yet we retain the knowledge that great People are at the core of our business, and we can’t operate without our Team of “steady hands.

”Yet when we don’t listen well, whether at home or at work, misunderstandings can develop. We might find ourselves spending more time explaining or arguing a point instead of addressing real issues. At work we put a lot of effort into communicating and explaining plans, goals, and objectives for the day. As we deal with issues at home or at work, the tyranny of the urgent seems to rule. But how many on our teams are going to remember what we’ve said? How do we make sure we’ve included them in the process? What is the glue that keeps us connected? The ability to bridge the gaps between us starts with understanding each other, but how do we develop that understanding in a way that is genuine and also well received? 

An important way to naturally develop mutual understanding is by sharing our own stories, and by encouraging others to share theirs by listening with care. Stories are a great way to express our ideas and to connect with each other. Your family may tell stories around the dinner table, and maybe your favorite family member is the person who can tell a great tale. Stories recount family lore, build family history and provide insight into our inner workings that can lead us to those important “Ah ha” moments. 

In the work place, stories we share about our careers, our experiences, ambitions, and our work knowledge serve a similar purpose.Stanford University researchers tell us that stories are meaningful because they are memorable and help us to decide what to believe in. While statistics stimulate the intellect, stories touch our emotions, activate the whole brain and create a personal connection. Listening takes time and patience, yet it is a worthwhile investment for solving problems. Managers who listen with care to their Team Members can hear ideas which may evolve into important workplace solutions.

At Graniterock, annual Recognition Days held at each work site give Team Members the opportunity to talk about improvements or accomplishments from the past year that they are most proud of. Some people may reminisce about how their careers started, or perhaps share a short story to thank and recognize a co-worker. These tales sometimes touch upon important aspects of the past and where we have come from, open a window into “back in the day,” or help us see what pitfalls we should avoid.  In the workplace, stories can help us to learn the lore of the business and strengthen co-worker relationships.

People want opportunities to contribute, to tell about what they know and what they have to offer. They want their turn at the dinner table to tell their story. By listening carefully and by offering each other the time necessary to express our knowledge, we create an environment for the “glue to set” which will hold us together, especially during difficult times when we must manage either planned or unexpected change that not everyone can agree upon. Most importantly, it is management’s responsibility to listen and to hear those ideas and stories. This is what builds a family.

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