FOR THE TOP MANAGEMENT TEAM: WHY should anyone want to listen to you- if you are not listening? Strategy storytelling is all about understanding that it is not about you telling your organization what to do, but for you to truly listen, involve and engage the people who are there to execute your strategy. Communication is easy when trust is high! Trust is build on doing what you say and sharing the road to success.
To make our communication more effective, we need to shift from “What information do I need to convey?” to “What questions do I want my audience to ask?” Your top management level must be able to deliver the strategic storytelling answering “What is in it for me?” for all organizational levels. Your stakeholders are diverse – so you must tell the story in various ways. Your top management team can use this 5 step model when developing your strategic storytelling: 1)Who do we involve among stakeholders to understand the organizational need for strategic storytelling on this subject? 2) What is OUR teams common understanding of the strategy? 3) Who do we need to communicate to, and who do we ask to carry out the storytelling as role models? 4) How do we communicate? Choose communication channels. 5) Evaluate among your receiving stakeholders in order to listen and better your communication for the next strategy storytelling.
So why should we as top management involve ourselves in this kind of communication? That kind of work is for the communication officer to do, and should not take place at our level! Well you are very wrong if that is your belief. If you as a team do not take the time to agree on the core story about your strategy- how can all your leaders and employees follow you into the future knowing exactly what to fight for? If you do not take the time to make a concern mapping: finding the obstacles and worries each stakeholder has – how can you know how the story must be told in order to keep up productiveness, effectiveness, engagement and ability to follow the path to growth results? The storytelling must build trust: Trust is easy when you are being honest, real and clear. Not so easy to do when you know you are probably about to cause anger or uncertainty. To build trust remember always to be clear about:
1) THIS IS WHAT WE KEEP DOING: What are we bringing from the past into the future? Because changes will often make your organization left with the feeling: “Am I going to be successful now that we make a change? Will I fail?”So remember to talk about what was so good, that you will keep doing it. “What is our DNA in this company that we promise each other we always support each other in doing?”
2) THIS IS WHAT WE STOP DOING: What are we saying goodbye to? What will we not do anymore? Be specific in how the employees can bring this message of change to customers and colleagues ? Explain the why – always.
3) THIS IS HOW WE WIN: How can each level or department be a success within this strategy or change? What does the world look like when we meet our goals? And what are the first steps to take to achieve that?
It is you – the top management team – who must make the analyses, be very precise about why you make the decisions, what will happen and how it is possible to achieve succes within the frame you developed. But do not believe for one minute that without involving, engaging and listening to the organization in the process, that they will be able to take the strategy to heart and follow you. They must be part of how you bring out the strategic changes – and it begins with how you tell the strategy story. If you are able to create meaningfulness it brings out the feeling of purpose. If you co-create it brings out the feeling of being part of the future. If you ask for participation it brings out the feeling of shared responsibility. How you bring the strategy storytelling is the message you are sending to the people who are there to execute and make you a winning organization.