Business Briefs: How to Tell Your Story, Stop the Generational Stereotypes & Include Others in Decisions

Welcome to The Metropreneur’s newest series: Business Briefs. The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.

Tell Your RICH Story

“Tell your story” is common advice when it comes to promoting your business. Of course, the success of this sort of promotion generally depends on a couple things: 1) Whether your story is any good, and 2) How you tell the story. 

Research printed in the December 2021 issue of Public Relations Review has some advice on item #2. Researchers found that “narratively rich” messages about a business’ social responsibility had the power to improve consumer views of companies. 

To reach this conclusion, the investigators used Coca Cola’s Clean Water Project as a demonstration model. They then tested the powers of different stories about the project on 659 subjects. In the “rich” version of the story, the audience learned about a particular farmer and the impacts the water project made on his life. Another audience was given the “muted” version of the story about the water project. The “muted” story was more abstract, without a plot, but shared the same general facts.

The rich story gave the audience someone (the farmer) to connect with, and that connection resulted in a more positive effect on their attitudes towards Coca Cola. 

The best tips for creating your own rich narrative? The research says to include an orderly plot, a scene, and highly identifiable characters: All of that helps convey your message. 

Read more here

Narrative Persuasion by Corporate CSR Messages: The Impact of Narrative Richness on Attitudes and Behavioral Intentions Via Character Identification, Transportation, and Message Credibility – Mark Boukes & Heather L. LaMarre, Public Relations Review

Stop Generational Generalizations

It’s pretty normal to stereotype others in the workplace based on generational generalizations. There are countless articles about subjects like ‘What Gen Z Wants‘ and ‘Boomer Bosses.’  

A literature review on these generational generalizations was published in the Human Resource Management Journal this past spring. Consulting 79 other research articles, the authors concluded that trying to understand your colleagues through a generational lens is…bankrupt. 

As a foundation, they suggest that the generalizations are based on an assumption that everyone born in the same period has similar experiences and memories. Given economic disparities and cultural differences, that would be a pretty silly assumption. Case in point: Someone with a rural background would have a very different outlook, values and experiences than someone from Columbus. 

Although the authors don’t endorse any alternative way to predict colleague preferences, they are no less ambitious in their verdict: “The current approach to researching and applying generational categories is invalid and should be stopped.”

Read more here

Generational Categories: A Broken Basis for Human Resource Management Research and Practice Emma Parry & Peter Urwin, Human Resource Management Journal

Decide NOW

If you’re trying to lead a team, how you’re perceived matters, a lot. It matters that your team thinks you’re competent. It matters that your team trusts you. 

And when it comes to being trustworthy, the speed at which you make decisions can affect how you’re viewed. 

Researchers conducted a set of experiments to see how observers reviewed leaders, based on the speed of leader decisions. In the initial pilot study, 197 participants were asked to reflect on a situation in which they were included or excluded from a work project, assess the speed at which the decision was made, and the fairness of the decision. 

Additional trials set up games where some participants were given tasks as leaders and their decisions to include or exclude others were evaluated by followers.

Bottom line? People see leaders as honest when they are fast to include followers in decisions. People see leaders as less honest when they are fast to exclude followers in decisions. 

How might this work in practice? Say you’re leading a team to pick out some new software at work. Invitations to others to opine should come quickly and early in the process. And as the selection moves along, there may be a need to winnow down the team…and that’s best for later in the project. Include quickly, exclude only with deliberation. 

Read more here

 Leader Decision Speed as a Signal of Honesty – Philippe P.F.M. Van de Calseyde, Anthony M. Evans, & Evangelia Demerouti, The Leadership Quarterly