Did you know you can manage and train employees using charts and graphs to tell business stories? Years ago I read a book, Managing by Storying Around, that dramatically changed my thinking about managing and working with employees. I learned that stories usually are more effective in training and coaching employees than emails, memos or newsletters.
Employees LOVE hearing business stories! Often these stories are based on business experiences that can be diagrammed in charts and graphs, which can help employees learn new tidbits of information.
Create charts and graphs that show the numbers
and then tell stories about them.
Here’s how you can use data from your business to create exciting training programs and stories for employees.
Share business facts
Numbers are dry and boring until they are brought to life. Create charts and graphs that show the numbers and then tell stories about them. Dig through the facts and statistics about your business for surprising and interesting information, such as:
- Where customers are from (area of the city or country).
- Find out details about these areas and that capture employees’ interest, e.g., the number of customers who live in a specific region or area. A few other interesting data sources:
- Business size
- How customers use the services and products you offer.
- Business trends
- What time of day most sales occur and through what vehicles, e.g., online orders, walk-in purchases, or phone calls?
- When does the phone ring most often?
- How long does it take employees to answer phone calls (number of rings)?
- What are the common first question customers ask?
- What are the common five to 10 concerns on customers’ minds?
- How customers first receive information about your business services and products?
- The number of customers who call first thing in the morning or 5 minutes before closing time?
- Review your company, products, and services. Show those that are most popular and seasonal sales.
- Show competitor trends. Provide a comparison of customer products and services vs. what your business offers.
Make numbers jump off the page by creating
different types of graphs and charts.
Jazz up the numbers
Make numbers jump off the page by creating different types of graphs and charts. For example, one land bank explained the types of farm products they supported through their loans in a pie chart. Using the percentages, they created pie slices showing different crops, livestock, harvesting methods, and other types of farm services. The final product was more interesting than a pie chart made of different colors.
If creating a bar chart, instead of using lines of color, use pictures to represent key points. For example, the land bank cited above used different types of animals and crops for the bar lines.
Remember, the goal is to step out away from mundane ideas and embrace a little creativity in how you communicate the numbers. If you feel brain dead or struggle to visualize ideas, gather a few creative employees together to help you develop fun and interesting charts and graphs. They’ll enjoy the opportunity to step away from their daily responsibilities.
There are many different charts and graphs you can use. Try out different ideas to find the one(s) that best represent your information and help you tell a story.
Create amazing stories
Gather stories from employees that help explain the numbers. For example, if you’re creating a chart about the number of phone calls during the last five minutes of the workday when people are thinking about going home, ask employees for information about what else was happening in the business at the same time. Tell these stories when showing a graph or chart on this topic, such as an experience employees were dealing with at the end of the day, and how they successfully handled it while answering customers’ calls.
Stories (graphs and charts) teach employees
about your business and about the
way you want business done.
Stories teach employees about your business and about the way you want business done. Often, these stories become part of the business memory that older employees share with younger team members. For example, at one business when employees were struggling to complete a project, the boss sent a runner to pick up yogurt treats for the entire office. Not surprisingly, employees were inspired to keep working and finished the project on time. This was just one example of the way the business consistently supported workers. Older employees often shared this story with new team members to help them understand the business culture.
Follow design rules
It’s easy to share graphs, charts, and stories in training modules created with an online training software system. Learn more about how to choose the right software and how to design an effective training plan.
When creating these fun graphs and charts, remember to use a type font that is easy to read and colors that support the message. Use design components that tell the story you want to share, and help employees better understand your business philosophy. For design tips, review this article from MindTools.