Strategic HR Weekly "Sales" Tip #4
The "Golden Circle" in HR
When you're trying to communicate HR's value in business, the more time you hang out in the green and yellow "why" circles below, the more successful you'll be.
Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, has a wonderful explanation for how this works. Sinek studied why people like Martin Luther King and companies like Apple were successful, and he discovered that they consistently think, act, and communicate in a way that is the exact opposite of most of us. He calls this manner of communication the Golden Circle: the what makes the outer most part of the circle, then the how, and finally the why in the center.
We all know "what" we do. My what is that I teach HR people to grow their businesses. My neighbor is a doctor who helps sick people. My brother-in-law runs a trucking company. That part is easy to define. When we tell others what we do, they typically nod and say, "Okay," and go on with their day, uninspired.
Next we all know "how" we do what we do. I teach people to grow their businesses by conducting trainings and writing articles, and providing tools. My neighbor helps sick people by giving them medicine. My brother-in-law keeps the trucking company running by supervising workers and the facilities. That's the process, and that's also fairly easy to explain. When we tell others how we do what we do, again they usually nod and say, "Okay," and go on about their business.
But according to Sinek, the center of the circle - the why - is the magic question. The answer to that question holds the key to telling our company story with conviction in a way that gains people's trust and loyalty. While we all know what we do and how we do it, we don't always know why we do it. It's easy to say we run our business to make money, but that's a result, not a driver. I understand that making money is a core element of business, but there must be something deeper. Uncover what that deeper thing is, tell people about it in a compelling manner, and you're on your way to making it happen. (Do this effectively, and you'll probably end up making more money, too.)
Why is your company here? Why do you do this work? Sinek found that the people and companies that most effectively communicate their whys are more likely to succeed and get what they want. Those that communicate from inside the Golden Circle outward (who first articulate why, then what and how) inspire more trust and loyalty than those that communicate from the outside in.
So when people communicate from outside the golden circle in, when they tell us what they do, we certainly can understand it. However, we probably won't act on that information. But when people or organizations convey a message about why they do what they do, we experience the kind of feelings that influence our behavior. So if you want to get folks to do something for you, for your organization, or for themselves, you must appeal to that portion of the brain that orders action, and you do that by telling a story that starts with why.
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