Creating a business change story

18 May 2019 | Carly Murray

You work in a business which is embarking on massive change. You clearly need to engage your people in the change that’s coming their way, through an emotive and inspiring story. People need clarity on why the business is changing, what needs to change, how and when it will change, and the part they have to play in it.

You might be the only person that realises this. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create the story that, over time, will encourage everyone to get behind the new direction of the business.

How to succeed in your mission

Listen out for the story

Talk to different people at different levels in the business to discover what the current story is. How do people feel about where they work and what needs to be done to make the business a success? Consistent themes will emerge.

Get everyone on the same page

Talk to everyone in the top team to hear why they think the business needs to change and how. If they are all telling drastically different versions of the story, this is your chance to flag it.

If they’re all on the same page, great – your story will resonate more with them if they hear their language played back within it.

Find the undeniable truth

The business will be changing for a reason. What is it? What’s the ‘burning platform?’ Is it because you’re behind the competition? Perhaps your customers are not satisfied or it’s just not a great place to work right now. It might be some or all of the above. Whatever it is, be honest and open about it. Your people will buy in to it more if the story reflects what’s really going on.

Don’t forget about the pride

Yes, the business may appear to be in dire straits, but even in the worst situations, there will always be people who feel they’re doing the best job given the circumstances and who still feel proud to work for the business.

Don’t lose the sense of pride that people have for what has gone before in your story. Bring them along with you, talk to them throughout the story and they will be advocates for the changes you need to make.

Test it out

See how well the story lands with an employee group. Change can be a scary thing. People will worry about it affecting their day-to-day lives. Have you answered the question “what will change for me”? Is the story engaging and inspiring? Have you explained why things will be better when change has happened by showing them the promised land?

Start the conversation

Give your leadership team a chance to get used to the story and practice making it personal and relevant to them before going out to the rest of the business.

Create opportunities for two-way discussion across the business about the story and what it means for people. Get their views and feedback and encourage them to be part of your story and add their own experiences along the way to really make it resonate. 

You’ve succeeded in your mission to get the story out there and to get the conversation started. Your challenge now is to keep the conversation going – good luck!”