What’s your story?

Have you heard the phrase ‘Strategic Narrative’? It’s proven to be a key enabler of employee engagement.

But what does it mean to real people in the real world (rather than in some management guide or text book) and why does it matter?

Put simply strategic narrative is all about why.

If you employ people and want them to perform for you, you need to tell them why. Your strategic narrative needs to answer the ever-present question ‘what’s in it for me?’ and if it does that effectively it will engage them.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic narrative?

A strategic narrative is more than a business plan, lots of organisations have those and, let’s be honest, very few people engage with them!

Your strategic narrative should be a story and like all good stories, it needs a compelling plot, characters, a climax, and a conclusion. A story is far more effective, than a load of facts and figures, in helping employees understand their place in the bigger picture and how they can help to shape the future.

And that’s not the only benefit:

  • Strategic Narratives help  you appear more human. They enable you to introduce personal anecdotes and stories and when people can relate to you on a personal level, they will be more trusting and accepting of change.
  • Stories create opportunities for conversation and this dialogue is what helps align peoples’ efforts, building a more inclusive environment they can comfortably connect with.
  • Using stories creates more opportunities to reinforce the values you want to embed in the fabric of your organisation, the culture and ways of working that will help you succeed and grow.
  • Telling a story  inspires and motivates people much more than a dry PowerPoint presentation or report. People remember and act on it because stories engage multiple regions of the brain ensuring they absorb it and can picture themselves in it.

What are you waiting for:

  • Make it strategic. Your story needs to have depth and breadth (but not necessarily length!)  It needs to provide the ‘Big Picture’ – what your organisation’s purpose is, where it has come from, where it is going.
  • Make it narrative. A story, with a beginning, a middle and a future is easy to remember and tell. Not your personal story but that of the organisation, and the people in it. A story with a clear message and purpose. A story that helps your people feel they belong in the organisation, and makes them want to stay.
  • Make it compelling. You want your people to own it as theirs, not something they have learn by rote. It needs to mean something to them, it needs to ignite something in them that makes them want to work for the organisation’s good and future (which also needs to be their good and their future).
  • Make it authentic. You and your team need to believe it, and live it. You need to be able to speak it from the heart. You need to be signed up to it, so there is no gap between what you say in public and what you say in the privacy of your own office or in the car on the way home.
  • Talk about it. Bring it life. A sign of a good narrative is that people are talking about it.

Think about your narrative –  do you already have one or do you need to create one? Is your narrative creating the right conversations, behaviours and performance for your business?

You’d like more help, advice and ideas on your strategic narrative –  take a look at our other blogs or join us at one of our workshops.

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