Each week we bring you news, opinions and research on Employee Engagement, Leadership and Motivation, along with some thoughts on practical workplace applications.
How to Build a Strategic Narrative
With changes happening so quickly from so many directions in competition, regulation, technology, talent, customer behaviour it’s easy for one’s story to become generic or outdated. You want a story that inspires employees, excites partners, attracts customers, and engages influencers. A story that is concise but comprehensive. One that defines the company’s vision, communicates the strategy, and embodies the culture.
A strategic narrative is a special kind of story. It says who you are as a company. Where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going. How you believe value is created and what you value in relationships. It explains why you exist and what makes you unique. This doesn’t come out of the usual competitive landscape, customer interviews, or whiteboard sessions. It takes a different approach and a shift in thinking, led by the leadership team.
1. Human context
The first step is to understand the context of the narrative. Research shows that our brains think of companies not as objects but as people. Every time someone engages with your brand, they are asking you: “So tell me about your yourself.” The context of the narrative must be a human, not an institutional, relationship. People want to get a sense for your organisation as if it were a person.
2. Shared purpose
The shared purpose is the outcome that you and your customer are working toward together. It’s more than a value proposition of what you deliver to them. Or a mission of what you do for the world. It’s the journey that you are on with them. By having a shared purpose, the relationship shifts from consumer to co-creator. One function of the strategic narrative is to explain how the purpose will be fulfilled. The second function of the narrative is to explain the roles necessary to fulfil the shared purpose.
3. Brand DNA
People don’t fundamentally change, and neither do organisations. When they are founded, a kind of DNA is created that persists for the life of the company. A strategic narrative must align with this brand DNA or it will be perceived as inauthentic. To find your brand DNA, go back to the original vision and ethos of your founder(s).
Losing the narrative
Most companies don’t have a powerful narrative. They are missing the human connection, lack a shared purpose, or are out of alignment with their brand DNA. But the opposite can also be true. Some companies have a powerful narrative and then lose it. Starbucks is one such cautionary tale. Read more at hbr.org
Blog: Consequential Development
Much has been written about learning styles – the different ways that people like to take in information and respond to what’s going on in the world around them. I’ve been reflecting not so much on how I like to take in information, but about the different levels at which learning is taking place. I’ve called this “The Process of Consequential Development”. Read more.
It’s time to move beyond engagement. Empower and align employees with organisational priorities to build a culture of high performance, well being and career satisfaction. To learn more, call 03450 523 593
How Leaders Can Engage Teams By Asking The Right Questions
Beth Kuhel, writing for forbes, recently had the chance to talk with Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever. Stanier wrote the book to help managers create more focus, courage and resilience in their teams. He says that to engage and increase your team’s performance, you’ll need to learn how to coach your team.
The problem is managers are often too busy to fit coaching into their already full schedule. Stanier offers a solution that teaches managers ways of coaching in 10 minutes or less by asking seven essential questions:
1. The Kickstarter question: “What’s on your mind?” This is a great ice-breaker and opens the floor so the other person feels free to talk. Turning the power over to the employee shows you value his thoughts.
2. The A.W.E. question. “And what else?” This question requires that the manager/coach hold off from offering advice before allowing the other person to fully express himself. When a person has the space to expound upon his thoughts he often comes up with the solution to his own problem.
3. The Focus question: “What’s the real challenge here for you?” Stanier quips that rarely is the real challenge the one that they come to you for advice on. This gets the person to narrow in on the main issue that really needs addressing.
4. The Foundation question: “What do you want?” There is often a need that’s hiding behind a want, says Stanier.
5. The Laziness question: “How can I help?” This question pushes the person to give a direct and clear response. It gives you the chance to decide whether you want to honor the request. It could also stop you from leaping in to help in the wrong area.
6. Strategic question: This involves saying no to something so you can say yes to something else. Stanier used the example of when a colleague asked for help in getting a promotion.
7. The Learning question: Asking “What was most useful to you?” at the end of a conversation gets the person to process and integrate the new knowledge. It requires the person to crystallize the lesson gained from the conversation.
Can asking the right questions build trust? The full story here.
Take Charge of your career, team or organisation by aligning individual goals with organisational priorities. To learn more, call 03450 523 593
Korn Ferry Hay Group Global Study Finds Employee Engagement at Critically Low Levels
A comprehensive global study released last week by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry shows that there is a critical need to improve employee engagement.
The survey, which includes data from more than 7,500 business and HR leaders in 107 countries, found that across all leadership levels, an average of only 36 percent of employees are “highly engaged.” The survey also found that leveraging a social responsibility agenda to develop leaders can help reverse this trend.
“Real leadership development doesn’t happen in the classroom. That just sets the stage,” said Hay Group Senior Partner Keith Halperin. “The real development happens on the job, and in today’s world employees are looking for organizations that are giving back to the community. Where there’s purpose, there’s a sense of meaning. There’s a sense of value. Opportunities to give back and serve are perfect places to develop leadership.”
A separate Korn Ferry study shows that the top factor that improves people’s feelings about their job is working for a company whose culture aligns with their values. This is especially true for younger workers [just part of the alignment we see as vital in our extraMILE development programme – Ed].
What Not to Do When You Take Over a Team
Three useful tips – in this short video – from Harvard Business Review of what to avoid when you inherit a team.
We help you keep your people great.
Emenex helps organisations get the best from and for their people.