A few years ago, I made a suggestion to a leader (let’s call her Jane) to kick off her next team newsletter with a personal photo and a story about her daughter’s wedding.
Jane’s immediate, somewhat bashful response was something along the lines of, ‘People aren’t interested in that! That’s not relevant – my life’s boring!’
I pushed back. I explained to Jane that her extensive team, spread over multiple sites, would probably rather enjoy hearing from her as a real human being. I told her by sharing a glimpse of this milestone in her life; she’s also permitting her team to bring their whole selves to work. Plus, people can’t resist stories! Including a personal tidbit might mean more people would open the newsletter, and maybe they’d even read the rest of the content too.
You can probably guess where this is going. Over the following days, Jane had many conversations with team members about the wedding while waiting for a lift or pouring a cuppa. It knocked down barriers, made her more approachable, and built new connections. ‘People read my newsletters!’ was her happy conclusion.
People love stories, including employees
Human beings are hardwired to love stories. Marketers know that ‘stories sell’ and it’s powerful, moving stories that connect with audiences and inspire action.
In internal communication, storytelling is an equally powerful tool. Yet, it can often be overlooked or cast aside if management believes their teams only want the facts, news, and information necessary to do their jobs.
But newsflash! Employees are people! And people better understand and remember information when the message includes character-driven stories with emotional content.
Stories can strengthen business strategy and culture
There’s a school of thought that says everything a business communicates to employees should tie back to the overall business strategy.
Indeed storytelling can work wonders to paint a picture of a company’s future, share the customer experience, move everyone forward toward the same goal, or bring organisational changes to life. That’s strategic storytelling and when done well, it’s magic.
But developing and nurturing an engaged, positive workplace culture is just as important as a company’s strategy. And if culture and strategy align, that’s when transformation can happen.
Encouraging people, especially leaders, to share real stories that showcase their values and actions will build authentic connections and a culture where people want to keep showing up.
And who knows, it might even make people pay more attention to the business strategy too.
I’d love to hear some of the creative ways you’ve used storytelling to shift workplace culture. Please comment below.
Or if you’d like to talk about how you could better connect with your employees, please get in touch for a chat.