Does the story you tell make sense?March 7, 2011
By now I am sure you have heard the expression – once you start to tell a lie, it gets complicated. You have to remember exactly what you said to whom, and now the story has to be supported.
While the expression is true, I find it is actually harder for business leaders to tell the same story every time to everyone.
Too many times leaders are trying to shape a message to connect personally with each person they meet. This is a problem because the story starts to change.
Many times the boss will tell customers varying versions of their policies hoping to keep the customer happy. In the end it creates confusion for the staff, and for the customers. It does not take long for the customers to find out that someone else is getting a better deal than you. Now the boss is continually in negotiation with each customer, and business profits and efficiencies fall rapidly. Yet the boss thinks they are providing outstanding service.
The same problems happen between the leaders and their employees. Once everyone starts getting a different story, they realise everyone is getting a different deal. Back into constant negotiations the boss goes. This is usually the same boss who does not provide real and regular evaluations.
What is the result of this bad communication? Well your customers and/or your employees will now have issues:
- Trusting you. They have figured out that there is no longer a standard of fairness.
- Become defensive. This is the normal reaction to a lack of trust. They have no idea where the bounds are, and will always try to defend themselves (back into negotiations you go)
- Anger! Once you lose trust, and they become defensive the final step is true anger. Just think to the times you have felt wronged, and placed on defence. You become angry. Once it is no longer able to be diffused, it will come to a point where the customer or employee will choose to separate themselves from your business.
All of this can easily be avoided. Just tell the story so it makes sense to everyone.
- It should be short. Any good story should be story enough to be remembered. It is like a good joke. It is always the long ones that seem to get messed up before the punch line.
- It should be simple/clear. You want the message of your story to get through, and understood. There is a reason the sign says “No Parking” and not a list of all kinds of exceptions. People must be able to grasp the message.
- Consistent. If your story changes every time you say it, how can you expect anyone to understand it.
Once of the best ways a short, simple and consistent story is told – airline attendants just before takeoff. They execute the pre-flight safety information to the passengers with near perfection each time. Why? Because people’s lives depend on it.
Let’s be dead honest here. You are in the same exact situation. Your business’s life depends on the story you tell. It impacts both your customers and your employees.
Now is the perfect time to ask yourself – “Does the story you tell make sense?”
Does your business need help telling short, clear, consistent stories? Contact the Business Accelerators at Eells Consulting. Their 5-Star Backcast Method(tm) will help you achieve long-term, predictable growth.
© 2011; Wayne Eells, Jr.