An effective, often tailor-made storytelling programme is focused on improving the storytelling capabilities of your organisation. Improved storytelling capabilities boosts employee engagement in the company. It helps the company increase employee respect for executive leadership, pride in working for the company, a positive feeling about the company culture, and a sense that your work matters. That translates into higher customer satisfaction and greater financial performance.
Investing in a storytelling programme to improve storytelling capabilities makes a difference for the company over the short and long term. It helps the company increase employee respect for executive leadership, pride in working for the company, a positive feeling about the company culture, and a sense that your work matters. That translates into higher customer satisfaction and greater financial performance.
How can you develop your Storytelling Programme for employee engagement?
You can do this by developing an appropriate storytelling programme for your organisation, together with your team. It is the most effective way to:
- Get measurable results in terms of an increase in shared leadership, trust and pride
- Plan ahead for successful implementation of the programme
- Gather meaningful stories to help kick-start the programme
- Gain fully committed agents for change to help lead the way
Defining the why and how of the storytelling programme to increase employee engagement includes actions such as:
- Articulating the (higher) purpose statement
- Providing a compelling answer to the question: what do we do?
- Reframing responses in order to answer the question: what is the purpose of what we do?
- Creating a dashboard to measure the effects of the programme
- Sharing personal stories about what we do and how it makes a difference
- Collecting stories about our purpose and the changes we are making
- Challenging and facilitating people’s efforts to tell their stories
- Facing specific challenges
What are the key elements involved in a corporate storytelling strategy?
It is important to tell stories, but it is more important to plan, develop and facilitate storytelling in your company. A storytelling strategy enables the company to focus storytelling on achieving the desired outcomes in terms of increasing trust and collaboration, demonstrating the company’s vision and values, or motivating employees to act.
A storytelling strategy supports the key elements of a robust employee engagement strategy:
- Telling compelling stories of vision and values
- Actively facilitating growth in trust, pride and (personal) leadership
- Enabling employees to identify the purpose in their work
- Sharing stories that recognise meaningful, memorable (and measurable) moments
- Effectively leading the way in sustaining high employee engagement
Why is a corporate storytelling strategy relevant?
Effective storytelling builds strong connections with employees. It is much more than simply telling a good tale. It is about empowering strong emotional connections and building high employee engagement.
Stories help us shape our identity and culture. They are the building blocks of our lives, providing a valuable reference point so that our brain can process information. In fact, our brains are hard-wired to process thoughts through stories. Unless the left side of the brain (facts) and the right side of the brain (creativity) connect, we cannot create memory. People also use stories to make sense of the world and to transport themselves to the realm of the possible.
A storytelling strategy understands how we process stories and use the power of the narrative to access employees’ imaginations, emotions, motives, memories, hopes and fears, as well as align the company’s vision with employees’ individual drive. A storytelling strategy supports the basic tenets of employee engagement: be honest, be positive, be concise, and show growth.
How can you develop a storytelling strategy for employee engagement?
We identify 4 steps in the process of developing a storytelling strategy.
- Profiling different audiences
- Developing compelling stories
- Selecting appropriate story interaction
- Facilitating storytelling in the company
Profile different audiences to help you to tailor storytelling to your specific audience. Before doing anything else, we should first distinguish between the different audiences within the company and understand their contexts and needs. We have to adapt our storytelling to the audience in order to be effective in bringing the story to that audience and in developing an authentic voice.
Develop compelling stories to create links between the company’s objectives and the listener’s emotional backbone. Using a business focus such as organisational change ensures that the story is immediately relevant to the listener. A compelling story helps drive a desired outcome in terms of increasing trust and collaboration, demonstrating the company’s vision and values, and motivating employees to act.
Select appropriate story interaction to engage with the audience and drive outcomes. To establish a connection and achieve goals, ensure that the story is relevant to the listener and that the interaction triggers thoughts of “you get me, you understand me”. Choosing the right interaction is key to sparking the right reaction.
Facilitate storytelling to foster the benefits of story sharing in the company. By telling their own stories, the leadership can establish a company culture that invites employees to share their stories with their colleagues. Tools can lower the threshold and make it easier to share powerful stories.