Storytelling to Empower Employees

In a fast-moving world, replete with phrases like “employee engagement,” “corporate culture,” and other alliterations, how can any of it be condensed down to something actionable? What can you do with and for your employees to help them feel like they want to work for you instead of simply needing to?

Within some of the recent buzz about “building your brand” or “sharing your company message” is a call to return to the basic human art of storytelling. Many business and marketing experts are claiming that the best way to grab customers and clients and keep them in your grasp is to tell a compelling and relatable narrative, whether it be about your product or the company itself.

On the popular blog Fistful of Talent, Marisa Keegan brings this idea back home to the workplace, back to the first battleground, in her article Expose Yourself – All the Cool Kids are Doing It. Corporate stories, she says, should be used to rally the troops to the message a company is trying to emit to the world. Before the customers can be won over, the employees should be won over with the same message: “This storytelling/bragging/legacy writing has given employees, customers, and their national audience a way to form an emotional connection to the history and future of the company. That connection creates loyalty, passion, and engagement.”

A company’s story is more than how they began, but should include where the company is going, and how its leaders see the company getting there. When these ideas are shared with employees, it’s easier then to see their role in the grand scheme and it fosters a culture of understanding. Helping employees understand the mission is like giving them a small bit of the company to own: here’s how you fit into the puzzle, so this is the bit of the company you need to make shine. Now go forth! Employees can bring this message to people outside the company, who may be potential new hires or potential customers.

Every company’s mission, brand, values, and culture are unique, and sharing it out to the rest of the company isn’t always a simple thing to do. For many, their story is not easily captured or it’s difficult to share fully. If your company is passionate about sharing their story, maybe it’s time to put someone on the job full time. Task someone with collecting the story and condensing it to something sharable then share it whenever there is opportunity. Good times to share the story are during on-boarding or employee training, at one on ones with current employees, or at company-wide meetings and events. Celebrate milestones at work such as commemorating when the company first reached a certain level of growth, when they added customer number X, or the week the company was founded. Every moment you take to share the story will stick with employees and hopefully begin to build a workplace full of employees who believe in, trust, and stick up for the story and mission of the company.

Have you perfected the art of company storytelling to rally your troops? Let us know in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by vancouverfilmschool