Written by: Adam Lloyd
Your Story….It’s one of the most impactful criteria amongst candidates evaluating new positions, it shapes brands and is the building block of customer and human relationships. Simply put, companies are a reflection of their leaders. So what’s your story?
The Disney Phenomenon
I remember my daughter, in her younger years, asking my wife and I to take her to see Mickey, Minnie and Pluto. Her birthday was approaching and her wish was to meet these characters and spend her birthday at their home. We all know she was referring to a Disney trip, even she knew it was Disney World that we would be arriving to, but she didn’t ask to go to Disney. As adults, if we were asking to go, we might say “I think I’d like to visit Disney World for my birthday.” So why didn’t she reference Disney, the destination, but rather specific characters? Because to her, it was Mickey, Minnie and Pluto that made Disney real.
Although visiting Disney was my daughter’s objective, her emotional interests were aligned with specific characters. Disney, as we know it, would be an empty castle without all of the characters that bring it to life. The same holds true for organizations, it’s their people who create, lead and make-up what they do. They’re the lifeblood.
Your People Are Your Brand.
I thought about this as it relates to how we in our adult life view companies and brands. We may like what a company stands for, use their products and services, think they have a cool brand; but when we decide where we’re going on our proverbial birthday, we start exploring and put value in their people. When you purchase your favorite products, I am willing to bet you don’t go and review the corporate leadership bios first for that company. BUT – when we think about where we are going to work, where we are going to spend a majority amount of our time, it always comes down to the people we’ll be working with. From the executive leadership team, to the department, peers, company culture, etc. People are what make the difference. Numerous studies conclude that employees value intrinsic rewards, like work fulfillment and enjoyment [effected by people], over extrinsic rewards such as compensation.
Executives Look to the Existing Team.
When I speak with executives about considering new opportunities, they ask about the leadership team, reports and who they’ll be working alongside with. Sure compensation needs to align, the role needs to be interesting, but they want to know the strategy, vision moving forward, leadership style, culture and the list goes on of human-related factors. It holds true in hiring and retention that people get behind and form their alliances with individuals. Employee engagement is the key to productivity, and Gallup backed it again by its analysis of almost 200 organizations and 1.4 million employees. There’s an opportunity to engage on the front-end, before people even decide to join an organization and it’s done through the stories of their brand ambassadors - just like Mickey, Minnie and Pluto.
We all have a story, our life roadmap to how we reached the seat we’re in today. Some of us know it and deliver it well, maybe we haven’t given it much thought or realized we had one; but it holds kinetic force in forming relationships. This will continue to be more important in the future, as Millennials are already being labeled as the generation that is always looking for the next opportunity.
6 Questions To Ask When Crafting Your Story
Now that you’re aware how important it is tell your story, you need to piece it together. By asking yourself a few questions, you’ll be able to share a summary of a critical brand element and candidate inquiry – YOU.
1. How did I get to where I am today?
How did you get your start, maybe there was someone that gave you chance? Did you come up through Finance, IT? Have you failed or stumbled? Show your authentic self and emphasize the real (not just positive) events that led to your position.
2. What are my defining career moments that shaped me?
Overcoming odds and making tough decisions builds character. Prospects want to know that you have it and it’s a building block of creating a following. By sharing just one example of an event that shaped you, you'll start to build buy-in. Do you recall a specific project or client win that was your catapult? Share it, if it’s honest of course.
3. What am I passionate about and find challenging in my work?
Without divulging proprietary information, share your vision and some of the hurdles you’re experiencing today. The individual you’re sharing with will start the mental process of thinking towards this goal and also thinking about solutions to the roadblocks. Again, you create buy-in to your cause and your passion.
4. Why I am here and have decided to stay?
When candidates consider new organizations, longevity is a real concern. Talk about the why and how you joined the company and more importantly what the company offers you and others to remain happily employed. This isn’t just selling the company’s strengths, but specifically what it means to you, your family, outside interests, etc. How has the company invested in you?
5. What do I like about this place?
So you’ve decide to stay, you’re fulfilled in your work and with peers, but what values does your company stand for that make you proud? If a family member asked “tell me about where you work?” How would you describe your organization? What’s the mission and how does it differentiate amongst competitors? Remembering not to bash your competitors of course.
6. What kind of people do I surround myself with?
There’s something to be said for chemistry. It’s the element that builds championship sports teams. Talk about the traits and characteristics of people you have chosen to be on you teams in the past. This is the time to be honest about who you surround yourself with and also maybe what you’ve been lacking all along. It’s an honest vetting piece and sometimes we realize we’re drawn to positivity or maybe we could use some new ways of thinking. Candidates will appreciate this.
As we continue to explore our journeys and where we’ll end up, it’s important to have a story and just as important to ask to hear others. This is how we form bonds and find our Disney.