In talking to my teen about her history class, she began critiquing the teaching methods and blaming the system for making history so boring. She explained to me that people learn things through stories because they’re interesting and memorable, not through tedious fact-laden history texts.
Sometimes we do need those facts, but the facts will make more sense if we first understand the concept and can really visualize it.
Which takes me to my point that when trying to communicate your company vision to the team, you must figure out how to make it more than just a bunch of corporate-speak.
Connecting the elusive to the tangible
The better the team understands your intended strategy, the better that everyone on the team is able to
- talk about the strategy,
- question one another about being on strategy, and
- execute on the strategy.
If you’re able to find and tell first-hand stories to explain your intentions, everyone will better understand the intended meaning, and you’ll see results quicker.
As an example, you could give the direction to “address the client’s needs.” That in itself probably doesn’t mean much to the average person. Your staff might think, “Well, I answer the phone every time they call, so I’m addressing their needs.”
But you really mean something much larger than answering the phone.
To make your point clear in the mind of a newbie, you should also share a specific example about how you’ve helped a client address needs. Make sure it’s a story that includes the details – perhaps you had to peel back multiple layers to really understand the core issue. Go on to tell how you went about solving it, and then finish up the story by sharing the client reaction and appreciation.
At this point, you’ll see some light bulbs begin to go off. When your team clearly understands what you expect, they can begin actively looking for their own opportunities to help address client needs.
Now, not only do they visualize it, but they also understand the terminology that you introduced in the beginning – the corporate lingo - and you’re all speaking a common language.
Or maybe a new phrase will come out of this story sharing that is immediately recognizable to everyone. As long as the whole team has the same idea, the words are not the important part.
Gather stories that are demonstrations of what you visualize your company doing. If you’re changing directions, you might even have to gather some external stories to get started. But make it a part of your culture to regularly share story-telling examples of how members of your team really made “it” happen.
This will help drive home your intentions, but also, and more importantly, these stories will help build upon the momentum and motivation for everyone to actively pursue the vision you’ve so carefully crafted!
Photo by umjanedoan.