Ever considered that your SMB employees are extremely unengaged storytellers?
Perhaps you should. After all, employees represent your brand to the marketplace.
Level of employee engagement is a hot topic in HR, regardless of the size of an organization. As the thinking goes, the more engaged the workplace, the less employee churn. The question becomes just what employees are supposed to be engaged in: water-cooler gossip, fixing the latest daily crisis, thinking about what they will do once they leave the workplace?
Various niche companies develop all sorts of team-building exercises and special events to fuse employees into a cohesive, engaged unit. Having fun with each other is all well and good.
However, the primary function of employee engagement is collaborating with each other on behalf of customer success. After all, without customers, there is no need for employees. That type of engagement is where most employees are least engaged.
How about engaging them in storytelling? To learn more, click on this link.
Unengaged storytellers reside in unengaging workplaces.
Employees reside at ground-zero for gathering customer stories, yet their input often is underutilized and even downplayed. However, think about it. Your people work closely with customers. Therefore, they are best-suited to gather Voice of the Customer insights, resulting in product and service innovations.
When working with SMB teams, one of the first questions I ask is for employees to share their customer stories with each other. Often, I get blank stares in response to my request. After some prompting, they briefly describe how they located a late delivery or addressed an unpaid invoice.
Boring story. Unengaged employee. Unresponsive audience. Status quo behavior.
In the meantime, I’m observing their body language: do they make eye contact with each other as they relate the story’s details? Are they animated in sharing specifics? Do they perceive their actions as making a difference for customer success and customer retention?
Most of the time, the real story they tell is that they are bored with their jobs (although glad to have them). In their minds, they are nothing more than order-takers: fulfilling specific, rote tasks which often leave them disconnected from the entirety of what is happening in the workplace. As a result, these workers have equally boring and unengaging customer stories to tell.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Engaged SMB storytellers not only have a sense of purpose, but also see themselves as part of the Bigger Picture.
Now, leaders and managers reading this blog post can run out of their offices and issue a storytelling edict to their employees. Those actions make storytelling the latest employee engagement flavor of the month tactic. So stop yourself right now.
Consider that corporate and SMB storytelling takes more than an edict. Otherwise, resulting stories resemble 5th-grade homework exercises (if that good). In addition, corporate, as well as SMB, storytelling comes across like features-and-benefits bragging rather than a compelling invitation to what’s possible.
More importantly, engaged storytelling impacts corporate culture as each employee becomes part of the bigger story to be told. As a result, formerly unengaged storytellers now have a context into which they fit. They feel connected to the past, current and living history of an organization. Not only that.
Engaged storytellers see themselves as essential and innovative elements of the future viability of an organization. Now that is a Big Idea.
Are your employees bored and unengaged order-takers or innovative storytellers? Think of the implications on employee churn, customer success and business sustainability when they become part of the future of your organization.
Take your next step. Send me an email. Let’s start telling stories, together.
Babette Ten Haken is a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker. She serves organizations as a strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer success for customer retention. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.
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