Monthly Archives: August 2018

How to give Your Business a Personal Touch by Storytelling

The term storytelling actually found its way into German—as one of those many anglicisms from the modern marketing language. People tell their personal stories. All well and good …. but is there really nothing more behind it than a buzzword?

By Jens Kügler

A staff member was sitting in the office with her boss. She told him that she was about to have surgery and she was afraid of it. A few days later: She wakes up from the anaesthetic. Her boss stands around her hospital bed, congratulating her with some colleagues, flowers and presents. Not a sign of a happy end, but of company culture. This company advertises that there is a particularly familiar atmosphere in its team and that one would be there for each other—which was proved by this scene.

The employee and her experience can be seen as a podcast on the homepage under a heading like “Why work for us”. Stories like these make a company and a team seem real and lively to outsiders. It doesn’t have to be emotional moments like this in the hospital. It can, of course, also have to do directly with the product or the job. It is obvious that someone is proud to be chief designer at BMW and to have helped develop the i8. But doesn’t every company produce something that it can do better than the competition—or maybe even the whole world? I know a trade fair construction company from China whose employees are proud to be booked by the most demanding European exhibitors because they supply quality according to highest European standards.

The author himself, by the way, likes to tell the anecdote again and again how he came to writing and texting and finally to journalism as a young commercial employee when stylistically improving the extremely lengthily dictated business correspondence of his boss. The boss admitted to him: “You can simply write better than I (by the way: bosses who admit things like that to their employees are perceived as collegial—but by no means as weak leaders!).

Why don’t you interview your employees? What was your most successful day in the company? What was her favorite moment? What was their heroic deed—in customer service, in team building or in a particularly time-critical project execution? How did they feel the day they may have left their “comfort zone” and decided on something new—here in the company? What have they experienced that could only happen here or in a few other places?

One tip is to film these little stories as podcasts. Maybe with five or ten sets until it is “perfect” and the filmed person feels comfortable with it. Of course, not everyone is ready to film and tell stories. It needs incentives. If you go ahead as a boss and offer your own personal stories, the spell can be broken for one or the other. According to the motto: Tell a story to get a story. That’s give and take. And once two or three colleagues have contributed their personal stories, more will certainly follow. Because everyone has a story to tell. All the stories around the company provide enough material for discussions during lunch break, in the hall or in the coffee kitchen.

The advantage? The inner cohesion, the sense of togetherness in the team, is guaranteed to grow. Stories make a company and a team tangible for outsiders as well. Applicants, for example. The candidates so hotly sought after in times of shortage of skilled workers get a clearer picture of what awaits them and what the work in the company means. For example, when employees describe their very personal motives for joining the company, these reasons may sometimes seem banal. But others are guaranteed to identify with it. It would be a waste to let these stories linger in the hall and canteen.

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Digital Natives in a World of Digital Immigrants

Young employees no longer want to work like their mothers and fathers. And even if it’s hard for us “oldies”: it’s good that way.

By Jens Kügler

Bye bye nine to five job: The so-called millennials no longer have anything in mind with restrictive regulations of days which they see as days gone by. And we do have to fulfill their demands as, demographically, they are indispensable as workers. Whoever wants to win them, the best minds among them, must meet their wishes.

How does this young generation see our world? Very simple. They grew up aware that modern technology revolutionizes and facilitates our everyday life at home. This no longer refers to the washing machine that replaced grand-granny’s washboard. But for example the fact that a virtual female voice called “Alexa” switches on both the light and the music, raises the blinds and regulates the heating temperature on acclamation. Why, the “Digital Natives” ask themselves, shouldn’t such smart technologies also improve the working world?

Even more blatantly expressed, these digitally natives feel as living in a world of digital immigrants who are alienated by the latest technology. This includes us, their older colleagues––and of course their employers. Still the question must be clarified: Who has to assimilate themselves, they or we? We do because we need these young ones. And because we know that satisfied employees are more productive.

What do young generation people want? Above all, more flexible working. In the age of mobile communication via cloud, they can do their jobs at any time and from anywhere. On this point, they have the full agreement of the author, who writes lots of his articles at sunny Bavarian lake beaches or in a wifi café when it rains. Why? Because these places simply inspire. The millennials, for example, can work from home and enjoy work-life balance. Working life no longer clashes with family life. Both complement each others.

Thanks to cloud technologies and mobile portals, employers can also see who is working when and for how long and who can be reached at any given time by logging on and off and exchanging data. In short: You even have better access to your employees than in the classic office. In addition to the technology, only framework agreements have to be made. And most importantly, employers must learn to trust their sometimes remote working employees and to give them responsible tasks. This not only enables them to carry out their jobs to a certain degree on the move. It also motivates them and makes them feel their work is meaningful.

In short: if you as employer want to win the best minds, you have to break through encrusted thought structures and surpass yourself. And to speak with JFK: Not because it’s easy. But it’s necessary.

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