Every organisation knows that to be successful they need to engage their people. That’s why so much time and energy is spent on communication. Yet despite our best efforts, over 75% of people are disengaged or actively disengaged at work. Think about the impact of that on business. The cost of time, money and most importantly lost opportunity. We know that people’s primary motivation at work is contribution, to know that “the work I do makes a difference”. What this tells us is that people don’t have a compelling story of why what they do matters.
- People speak intellectually but engage emotionally; in business we typically use intellectual rationalisation to sell what we do. We say things like “we are the biggest” or “we are the best”. The challenge is that we make decisions based on how we feel. To get people to engage you can’t just speak to the head. You have to speak to the heart.
- Facts are hard to remember and easy to challenge; while being factually accurate is important, we don’t typically remember facts unless they are anchored to an emotion. We all know smoking kills but it is often not until we lose someone close to us as a result of smoking that we are able to kick the habit. People can also be distrusting of facts because it is often possible to find facts to support both sides of an argument.
- If we only talk about our success people won’t believe us; most corporate communication talks about how great things are and will continue to be, rather than acknowledging real issues and challenges. People engage with authenticity, and you can’t be authentic unless you tell the whole story.
- If everything is important, nothing is important; conventional thinking is “communicate more x multiple channels = greater engagement. In reality this approach results in greater NOISE. People don’t want more communication; they want meaningful communication.
To engage people, communications must speak to our emotions. That is why Story is one of the simplest ways to bridge the gap between communication and engagement. By giving people a Story of why what they do matters you will not only engage them, but you will be able to unlock their discretionary effort and empower them to make a real difference. You may also give them some new stories to tell.