Many businesses focus on pitching their stories to customers and investors. As leaders, however, your first job is to attract and inspire the talent you need. Do you have a clear and convincing story about your business? Does it engage the interest and passion of top talent? Can your employees readily convey the story to prospective employees, customers, and vendors so that you get the best of what you need from them to succeed?
Does your business even have a coherent story? Is it up to date? Does it read like an engaging mystery that people can’t put down because they want to read and help create the next chapter? If you’re going to build and sustain a great business, you need a compelling story.
A group of top business leaders recently asked me to help them figure out better ways to recruit, motivate, and retain key people. Each business owner had lost one or more valuable employees. They also experienced frustration in finding top-notch talent. Why should excellent people work for them? How could they get their message out more effectively?
Here are key questions to develop an effective story for your business.
- Whom do we serve?
The first thing that current and prospective employees need to know is whom you seek to serve. This puts a face on the business’ purpose. Many businesses want any customers that they can get. It’s better to focus on whom you are best positioned to serve. For example, my firm helps businesses solve their toughest issues. These are issues with high stakes, diverse interests, and the necessity of collaboration to realize results.
- What’s special about our business?
Employees want to know how your business is going to succeed. What proprietary knowledge, distinctive market position, or unique ways of delivering your goods or services give you sustainable competitive advantages? What role do your employees play?
The first draft of one business owner’s story described his distinctive expertise and excellent systems. It didn’t describe how his employees contributed. No wonder key people left him for opportunities elsewhere. He needed to think through and better articulate how talented people fit in his organization and opportunities for them to contribute and advance.
- What are our compensation and benefits?
Do you pay top dollar for your employees? Or, are you offering mid-range salaries with flex time and other non-financial incentives? How do your firm’s compensation and benefits fit with what your market can pay and the distinctive value you deliver?
A twenty-year-old firm enjoyed a high level of employee retention and satisfaction because it focused on getting every employee involved in learning and growing. People took pride of ownership in the unique ways of doing business that they developed and the high levels of customer satisfaction that the firm reported to them at a personal level. This feedback, the satisfaction of helping their clients, and mid-level pay scales yielded an extraordinarily committed team.
- How does our culture support our objectives?
What’s the environment like in your business? Is it highly competitive or collaborative? Again, there is no right answer for all businesses. It all depends upon how the elements of your story fit together.
- How will we measure and track our success?
Successful businesses with compelling stories have measures for tracking each of the prior elements. They have clear records of success in attracting ideal customers. They establish and report key quality measures and provide personalized feedback to employees. They gather candid perspectives from employees about the culture and how it’s working.
Take a few minutes to write your business’ story. Invite your employees to share their answers to these questions. Is your message clear and compelling? Strengthen your story to attract and inspire key people.
Copyright © 2017 Don Maruska