Your S.O.A.R. Stories Maximizing, leveraging and sharing them

Sharing Your Value to Maximize Your Career

Most often, the use of the SOAR model, (or telling your SOAR stories) is reserved for situations like interviews, or in writing on a resume, cover letter, etc. There are far more opportunities to use this concept though. Before developing these ideas, let's discuss what the SOAR model (or SOAR stories) means.


The situation is the context, the non-embellished reality you, your facility or your department are in. In sharing "the situation," one must briefly describe the context so the intended audience can be taken there. To put it another way, you're sharing the "before" or status quo picture, what was going on, who was involved, etc. (A meaningful SOAR story should give the audience a clear picture as to why the "status quo stunk" too. This is assumed because if it were a great situation, one wouldn't need to overcome it, fix it or similar.

For example – “After being hired as the first PGA professional at the facility in over 5 years, it was clear we needed to work on team culture. In general, staff seemed indifferent, we were silo'd by department and turnover was a significant problem. Symptoms of this problem showed up in inventory losses, missed sales opportunities, etc."


What did you, your team have to overcome?

Articulating the obstacles may seem a bit more like sharing situation. In reality, the obstacles may be budgetary, management, staff or in your stakeholders. (Frankly, they could be in all of these.) Whichever is the most significant, or whichever is the easiest win, choose one and overcome it.

In his book, The Obstacle is The Way, by Ryan Holmes is a great book to apply here. Even the title is clear about the message. If you really want to change the situation, go directly to the obstacle(s.) Check out the video review of the book, narrated by Ryan Holiday himself in a whiteboard-style.

As part of articulating the issues/defining the problem, ensure you leave opinion or subjective considerations out of the story. Like Sgt. Friday in the famed TV show Dragnet, be sure to stick to "just the facts..."

For example – "I identified that a small group, who believed that (name the obstacle) was the reason we couldn't move forward in this area. Instead of accepting this viewpoint, I sought to build a new perspective amongst this group that saw the obstacle as an opportunity worth overcoming."

"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way is the way." (from Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, dated AD 170...Ryan Holmes referenced this in his book mentioned earlier.)


Next, explain the action you took to resolve the situation. Be sure to demonstrate how you went directly towards the obstacle (and possibly, how you recognized "it was the way" forward.) In doing so, you can accurately show your ability to be, both a "fixer", a "solver" but also capable to analyze or strategize what was the best course of action.

Continuing the previous example – “...Instead of accepting this viewpoint, I sought to build a new perspective amongst this group that saw the obstacle as an opportunity worth overcoming. Instead of going to them with a 'this is the plan' attitude, I had some pre-meetings with each of them individually, seeking to address their anxiety or issues. At the end of each of these visits, I asked them to 'dare to think, dare to question their assumptions' and ask 'what if' instead. We all got together. When nay-sayer tendencies crept up, we redirected them back. Eventually, we developed alignment on how to get after (the obstacle) and the steps to overcome it. It's going to be exciting how this alignment will pay dividends in the future."


Lastly, you share the result of your actions. Tangible results about bottom line impacts, increased revenues, more members, decreased expenses or inventory losses make the most impactful SOAR stories. Similarly, customer-centric results about increased participation, more activation of customers, increasing retention, etc. As a manager, decreasing staff turnover, increased productivtity, etc. can be just as compelling.

For example – “Employee turnover dropped to 10% within the first year. Morale improved significantly. Customer complaints stopped coming in. The department became the most efficient and productive department in the division.”

Here are some behavioral questions to ask yourself, or ask on behalf of your employer/supervisor. Practice using the "S.O.A.R. Analysis" to develop your own responses.

Questions/statements courtesy of www.humanresources.com.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult client or coworker.
  • Tell me about your most significant achievement in your last job.
  • Tell me about the most significant mistake you have made, how you handled it, and what you learned from it.
  • Give me an example of when you had to sell your boss on a new product, service, system, or program.
  • Give me an example of a problem you faced on the job and how you handled it.
  • Give me an example of how you dealt with an employee who was not performing up to expectations.
  • Give me a recent example of how you went about motivating your coworkers and subordinates.
  • Recall for me a time when you challenged your boss and/or company policy.
  • Tell me what you did in your last job to help build teamwork.
“Objective judgment, now at this very moment...Unselfish action, now at this very moment...Willing acceptance – now at this very moment – of all external events. That’s all you need.” - Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from his book Meditations

Applying SOAR Stories Model Beyond the Interview

SOAR stories are much more valuable than just for impressing an interviewer. Every day is an interview, a chance at an impression for someone who's got the ability to impact your career. Difference making activities that become SOAR stories happen every day, but most of us are terrible at recording them. Whose fault is this? The employee or the employer/owner? (Hint: the employee.)

Why don't most employers track the SOAR stories? It would seem most employers don't look too hard for SOAR stories. Intrinsically, there is a conflict that comes up. As an employer, when I see your SOAR stories, I am confronted with the increased value, the higher value of said employee. In this case, the leverage in a compensation question should go to the employee, meaning I may need to pay them better or provide some other remuneration to retain them.

As a side note: If you're an employer, supervisor or manager: Stop playing the "ignorance is bliss" game when it comes to your employees' value. You're missing out on difference making, and the bottom line benefits of SOAR stories. Instead, I suggest you work to create a compelling scoreboard for your team. (If you want to know how to build one, and the right context for it, check out The Four Disciplines of Execution Summary video.)

In conclusion, if you desire opportunities to maximize your career, leverage your achievements and "bottom-line" SOAR stories, you need to:

  1. Create them through "seeing the obstacle as the way"
  2. Be able to tell the situation you faced, how you identified and then overcame the obstacle, how you took action and finally how you drove results
  3. Be able to share compelling results about quantifiable increases or decreases that positively affect the bottom line; or share compelling stories about higher morale, decreased customer or staff turnover, etc.

If you, as a PGA professional, have a significant SOAR story you would like to share with me or one of my colleagues in the PGA Career Services Department, I would like to hear it. With it, you will likely inspire us and hopefully we'll be able to inspire others with it. We'll likely be able to help you "get more lift out of your SOAR stories" with your employer too. (And wouldn't that be nice.)

Monte Koch, PGA | Career Consultant | Career Services Department | PGA of America

206.335.5260 | mkoch@pgahq.com


Created with images by Kea Mowat - "eagle eye" • Jeremy Bishop - "Standing Proud" • skeeze - "silhouette soldier military training obstacle course effort" • geralt - "business idea planning business plan" • geralt - "result balance sheet follow"

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