What’s Your Story?

If you’re in New York City and you want to catch a Broadway show the toughest to get is probably to Funny Girl, starring Lea Michele. But if you’re lucky enough to get in – and you work in professional services – you might walk away with the best advice you’ve gotten in a long time.  

Not long before intermission, the former Glee star (as Fanny Bryce) belts out the immortal lyric, “People, People who need people/Are the luckiest people in the world”. And why might that be the best advice you’ve gotten in a long time? Well, if you work in professional services, you most certainly need people. And when you think about the people in your firm you’ve probably said, “Our people are our most important asset.” And before the pandemic you probably also said that your most important assets walked out the door at the end of each day.  If your firm was able to recruit and retain the best and brightest then you really were one of the luckiest people in the world.  

But that’s not so easy anymore. Yes, the great migration back to the office has begun. But we’re not going back to the way things used to be. Your people are still your most important asset, but it no longer matters as much whether they walk in or out the door each day. So, how do you manage an asset that may no longer be “walking the halls?” The answer may be easier than you think. 

Start by asking: What’s our story? What is the mission and values statement that gives your people a sense of purpose? And don’t worry, your purpose – your story – needn’t be about the steps you are taking to save the planet (although that would be great). Your story is also not about what you do – your competitors can all say the same thing. Rather your story is built on the foundation of why you do what you do, how you do it, and who it matters to.  

You probably already have a company mission statement and somewhere on the web site you can likely find a page with your company’s values. But can you honestly say what they are? Can your people? Values and purpose are best remembered, shared and acted upon when they are communicated as a story.  

And stories at the end of the day are about people. Your people. Nobody ever hired a professional services firm because they had a great values or mission statement on their web site. Professional services firms get hired because they have the best and most engaged people. People united by a common story built around why they do what they do and why it matters. 

If Broadway’s not your scene, maybe this famous quote from Game of Thrones will help drive things home. In the series finale Tyrion Lannister says, “There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it.” So, what’s your story, and are your people ready to help you tell it? 

The professional services teams who get that right may be the luckiest people in the world.  

By Ken Kerrigan

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