Getting your team to care about what you say is tough. What can leaders do to help employees get invested in their work?
When you need to get the attention of your team, try tapping into an emotional connection; it’s one of the most effective ways to get someone engaged. One method to achieve this is to share a personal story.
Here’s an example:
Angela Middleton is a senior executive at ME Bank. She uses a personal story to get people to care about her message of being prepared to fail. Below is an extract.
I remember a time when I was living and working in Perth. I grew up in Adelaide and moved to Perth for work in 2003, but after two years there I was still struggling to fully engage with the local community. With lots of travel I found it really hard to make new friends.
One Saturday night in 2005, I was at home, watching more reruns of Sex and the City and thinking, ‘What am I doing?’ I had always wanted to live in Melbourne and the only thing that was stopping me from doing that was me.
So after 10 years working for this company, I went into work the following Monday morning and told my boss I was resigning. He asked me what I would do in Melbourne and I responded with, ‘I don’t know’. And I really didn’t know but I did know that I needed to break new ground.
I quit my job and left for Melbourne.
I had two suitcases, one person in Melbourne I knew, no job and no idea what I was doing.
I remember the plane taking off…and you know that little ding you hear when they turn the seatbelt sign off? It was at that exact moment I thought, ‘Oh crap, this is really happening and there’s no turning back now!’
I admit, I still feared failure, but I was also excited about doing something different.
At ME Bank, we have lots of opportunity for change. So let’s not be afraid to fail. Let’s think about how we can do things differently and not only change our world, but change the world for our customers.
On reflection, Angela comments that, “I’ve been told many times that people relate better through stories, but I still felt quite vulnerable sharing.” Afterwards, however, her team commented that they could really relate to her story and were able to use her story to help them make decisions that affected them personally or at work.
How to connect with your team
Many leaders struggle to get people to care about their message because they focus on communicating solely through rational arguments. Aristotle said that there are three different ways to persuade others with your words: logic, personal credibility and an emotional connection. The least important of these three – when you truly need people to care about what you’re saying – is logic. Yet businesses continue to overvalue logic when they should be tapping into people’s emotions.
Gabrielle Dolan is a speaker and best-selling author on business storytelling. Her latest book ‘Stories for Work’ is available now. Find out more at www.gabrielledolan.com