It’s now commonplace for organisations to have a vision, mission, values, behaviours and a strategic plan. What’s often missing though is a compelling and authentic strategic narrative which weaves these together into one simple ‘story’ of where the organisation has come from, where it’s going to and how it’s going to get there. Mark has recently been thinking about how businesses can go about creating their own story.
The first step in creating your organisation’s story or strategic narrative should be pulling together what you already have. This is what should be on your content checklist: the vision, mission, values, behaviours, strategic plan, change plans, divisional/departmental plans, KPIs, organisational history and any narrative which goes behind each of these. Think of your first story draft as simply putting the pieces of a jigsaw together.
Next comes crafting the story and then testing it. A great starting point is filming or recording leaders telling the organisational story in their own words. They’ll each have a different take on the story but should give some really helpful ways of connecting the content, in a coherent way. Check how believable, how inspiring and how real people find it. And, more importantly, do they both understand and connect emotionally with it? Remember that every good story has a hero, and in this case, your employees need to feel they’re the heroes.
Your organisational story needs to be told in language which will resonate with your people and matches your agreed ‘tone of voice’. Plain English will help too. Ensure it’s well structured, with a clear beginning, middle and end.
You should now be in a great position to start sharing the story with your people. Get leaders to practise delivering the story, ideally without a script and in a way they feel comfortable with. You’ll then have a story with great soundbites, sentences and phrases which really zing. Start using these words in all communication activities from ‘town halls’ to newsletters and the intranet. Keep using them like a mantra and make sure you check that you’ve really captured people’s hearts and minds.
Rambutan used this approach recently with Hyundai Capital UK, where we found that employee engagement survey data highlighted an opportunity to improve the understanding of, and connection with, their vision, mission, strategy and overall direction. We supported the senior management team in agreeing and refreshing their vision and then helped them to rework their existing business strategy into an inspiring story that could be easily understood by everyone. It was important that this provided a clear ‘line of sight’ for all employees to see how what they did in their day-to-day-roles contributed to the vision and strategy, and how all the component parts fitted together.
The impact on employee engagement of having a compelling story was significant. The next employee survey,18 months later, showed that overall engagement was up by 16 percentage points. More importantly, there was a huge increase in scores on survey questions about the vision and strategy. Understanding about the vision and strategy was up a massive 38 percentage points. And in focus groups, employees talked about a real consistency of message across the business, clearer alignment of personal objectives and a straightforward strategic framework to aid decision-making.
Having a great story really helped Hyundai Capital UK. Maybe it’s time to think how getting the story straight can help drive engagement in your business? #nationalstorytellingweek