When the Story Fades
-by Danette High
James had been a trusted employee at the store for years, but when he changed shifts, his attitude about work changed—for the worse. Previously, his friends had stopped by. Several had even put in applications. The manager could tell something was off and knew a conversation was in order. In their next conversation, he asked James, “You’ve always sent such good applicants my way. What are you telling your friends about your job these days?”
Digging for Why
Instead of naming the friends he’d encouraged to apply, he slowly began to admit that the new hours weren’t working for him, but he knew the change was necessary for his advancement. Just getting it out on the table made it possible for James and his manager to make a few adjustments that resulted in a more satisfied employee. A couple of weeks later, the manager noticed that James’s name showed up as a reference on a job application. The manager smiled and made a point to ask the “friends” question in his next team meeting.
The Right Message
It’s normal for employees to vent to their friends about workplace frustration. Right? Everyone needs to let off steam. That may be true, but if all employees are brand ambassadors, what does that venting do for your brand? Don’t be caught off guard!
Their story IS your story. The message broadcast by your employees in their off-hours becomes your story as well.
Their story multiplies your story. Your employees double as your HR reps. Find out what message they are broadcasting. Look for ways to make it easy for them to refer their friends.
Keep the story going. Just because an employee is satisfied in January doesn’t mean they’ll be satisfied in June. Life changes. Your business changes. Good questions will reveal ways that your company and your employees can grow together.
Danette High coaches emerging leaders to interpret feedback and criticism as a growth opportunity. Danette is an experienced coach and has developed specialized group coaching skills. Contact
This article is part of an ongoing series for diving deeper into the Lead with a Question series. We encourage you to use great questions to bring out the best in your leaders.
The manager in this story was able to ask James this revealing question because they had a foundation of trust. How would you rate the trust that your employees feel for management?
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