Where’s “Waldo”? Find the human in your stories

Find the employee (Waldo)When my sons were growing up, books were a big part of our life. One memorable series was Where’s Waldo? by Martin Handford. The boys enjoyed scanning the detailed illustrations searching for that one specific individual, the bespectacled Waldo.

Company employees are looking for “Waldo,” too.

By that I mean any time you want to let employees know about something important – say a new product or (yawn) process – they’ll be looking for the human angle. Here’s how I approach this:

Introducing or changing a process: What difference will it make for the company, sure, but what does it mean for employees? Will their work go more smoothly? Will they be able to respond more quickly to customers or colleagues? What did people do to create or change it?

Launching a product: Find the people behind the product and what they did. How many people were involved? How long have they been working on it? What challenges did they overcome? What was the experience like? What are they proud of?

Reporting on a survey: For a customer survey, share how employees influenced customer satisfaction. For employee surveys, lead with highlights of what employees say and think, both good and “needs work.” What will happen as a result and how will that affect people, both employees and customers? What changes will people notice since the last survey?

Career progress: Show how individuals can take charge of their careers, highlighting people who have done so. How can people keep their skills sharp or develop in new areas? What resources exist within the company to support their efforts?

The industry:  What issues affect the company and the industry? Who is the company’s “face” on the issue? How can employees help? What are people doing?

Company values: Find the people who model the behaviour you want to encourage. Who is living the company’s values, and how? How can employees do their jobs better or more in tune with the values?

No matter what the topic, always try to answer the employee’s unspoken question, “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM).

One of the nicest compliments I’ve received about my writing is praise for my “ability to find the human angle in any story.” Can I help you find your Waldo?

Related reading:

More questions I use to find WIIFM in Find the heart of your story
8 ways to reel in your reader

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