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The Power of Narrative on the Small Business Radio Show

Any student of history will tell you that there are as many perspectives on an event as there are witnesses. In fact, maybe more. I've found that this is critical to take into account when leading and managing people.

Barry Moltz, the founder and host of the Small Business Radio Show, has seen a lot of ups and downs in business over the years. I have too. It is a part of the journey to success and a defining characteristic of many entrepreneurs is that they are comfortable with uncertainty and typically have a more favorable and positive perspective. When it comes to employing and managing people within the business, however, this is not always the case.

On the Small Business Radio Show, I share a personal story from my childhood where my older brother put an unfortunate twist on the story of the demise of the brown duck. My younger brother's favorite duck. The prank impacted our friendship for many decades.

Older brother Dickie tells the story that Charlie hit the duck with a wrench to younger brother Mike.
The demise of the brown duck, according to my brother Dickie. Not true...

I've seen this story re-enacted countless times within my own business, as well as in the public sphere. An unfortunate or, in some cases, tumultuous event occurs. For example: the company moves locations, a top employee leaves, a couple of people leave at the same time, or a new initiative is started. Many people wait to get information before drawing conclusions. Some people, however, don't wait for information and instruction. Whether due to their own worries or due to an abundance of imagination, they share their ideas about what is happening. Often of the sort that have little basis in reality or facts. They share these broadly and enthusiastically. A few others lend an ear to it, some even share it or comment on it or add their own ideas to the story. Before you know it, there is a well syndicated story, a cultural attitude, and a collective reaction to the events. Its entirely based on the conjectures of a few vociferous individuals. This is the power of narrative.

Over the years, I've developed a few rules of thumb for how to deal with the emergent narratives that crop up wherever change in the company occurs. Here's my 3 tips for managers:

Tip #1: Use your own power of narrative to address the situation head on and promptly

  1. Have a team meeting and explain and answer questions

  2. Ask your managers to address the situation with their team and answer their questions

  3. Have a company wide meeting and explain and answer questions

Tip #2: Have leaders & managers who are impervious to gossip and baseless conjectures

  1. Don't tolerate managers who are gossips

  2. Explain and reinforce the difference between people having legitimate complaints (which need to be handled with tact by the manager OR go through HR) vs story spin and gossip.

  3. Maintain high standards that managers and leaders should not lend an ear to gossiping

Tip #3: Address the issue with people who spread unhealthy gossip and rumor and don't let it fester

  1. When specific individuals are sources of a lot of gossip or gossip that is hurtful to other people or the companies goals - address it with them through feedback or corrective actions. If left unchecked this will always be a source of bad culture and negativity on your team.

  2. By showing that you will not tolerate this type of behavior, you will also role model how to deal with insidious gossip to other managers and leaders on your team.

Listen to the full episode of the interview with Barry Moltz on the Small Business Radio Show where we discuss the power of narrative and other important business lessons.

Photos of Charles McCarrick and of Barry Moltz  speaking on the small business radio show: the final word in small business

Barry Moltz gets small businesses unstuck. He has founded and run small businesses with a great deal of success and failure for more than 25 years. Barry knows the formula for taking your company to the next level!This is a business radio show where we talk about all the craziness of small business. It’s that craziness that actually makes it exciting, interesting and totally unpredictable. He is also the author of Change Masters: How to Actually Make the Changes You Already Know You Need To Make

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Workplace culture is one of the hot topics that we will be covering at the Inventor Manufacturer Entrepreneurship Conference in July. Register to attend, our company Micro-Ant will be hosting the event in our Jacksonville Global Headquarters. This is THE event for growing manufacturing businesses in Florida.


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