Monday, 3 December 2012

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

I must admit I found this interview frustrating. Which is good. 

Although Rod Thorn, Director of Communications at PepsiCo, makes some interesting insights about storytelling in employee engagement – mainly that it’s a good thing – I found the questioner missed the opportunity to find a couple of gems. 

Rod mentions that the “same things that should make [employee engagement] easier can at the same time also make it more difficult.” And I’m sitting here with bated breath, on the edge of my sofa, in suspense, wondering what Rod might think those things are. In a pique of irony, we move on to a different question about turning cultural stories into management techniques.

But then, hang on, the interviewer has actually shown what Rod mentioned earlier. By giving us a snippet of what he was talking about and then changing the subject, the interview has created intrigue. I want to know more. I’m, dare I say it, engaged.

Whether this was intentional or not, who knows? But I now want to read Rod’s further writing on the subject, so it’s done its job.

Rod mentions that great corporate buzzword ‘authentic’ and with good reason. Authentic cultural stories are how we remember that we survived the last recession and thrived in the upturn. They make goals real and attainable by showing that they’ve been achieved before. They make life a little less scary. 

If employees are entertained and find a message relatable, they’re far more likely to remember it – especially if they had a part in creating it through, say, a workshop. If they remember it when the time comes to implement it then it’ll become a habit and then part of their DNA. 

That’s why we start the creative process by working with a group of people from communications, HR, Marketing, and of course – the people who also work on the product or service. And, once we’ve peeled off the layers of the onion and found the nub of the problem, only then do we go off and work our magic on it. It’s a great way of engaging the employees, and, after a little nudging, they often surprise themselves with their ability to solve their own problem.

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