Storytelling has been a buzz word for the past few years, yet very few people in the business world truly understand the value a great story can bring to an organisation. While on the surface Storytelling looks like just another communication technique, that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Beneath what is visible, a lot of processes and benefits are set in motion once Storytelling becomes a customary practice inside the company. With every story shared, you plant to seeds for the following outcomes:
1. Cultivating a Sense of Belonging among Employees
As Brene Brown brilliantly puts it “We are hard-wired for connection. It’s why we’re here”. When people in your company start sharing stories about their personal and professional growth, about the failures and adversity they overcame and the lessons learned along the way, everyone around them will start feeling more comfortable and more connected. Rather than worrying that they are not good enough yet (especially entry-levels or new hires), they feel they are in an environment that welcomes their imperfections and that will help them grow.
Belonging to the community in the organisation will lead in time to lower turn-over. Besides the many studies out there, if I had a penny for every time I met people who said that the reason they work in the same place for several years or more than a decade was the connection they felt with their leaders and colleagues, I would be investing in real estate by now.
Stories bring people together, but that is just one side to the story…
2. Restoring Humanity and Mental Health
Let’s be frank, not all companies and organisations are created equal. While some are places where people feel their are valued, connected and happy with their job, a great deal of other companies have to deal with a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms, elements of organisational culture and emotional illiteracy.
The most common examples are perfectionism, radical competition, toxic office politics, blame, shame, gossip, depression, anxiety and the well-known phenomenon of burn-out. While it might not seem like it, Storytelling can really help curb these phenomenons in a healthier direction. Once managers, leaders and co-workers open up about their hardships, we experience catharsis (i.e. a purge of our emotions) and we soon follow the example.
As we open and share stories, we stop looking at each other as enemies, people to be feared or bad people with an agenda and we start seeing each other as human beings, not so different from ourselves. Better yet, we each start owning our story and our emotional baggage and we work together on bettering each other. We judge less and we empathize more. We show less resentment and show more compassion. We act less like machines and act more like proper human beings.
3. Free Sharing of Wisdom and Knowledge
Everyone in your company is a walking encyclopedia, but just like YouTube, rather than extracting out of them the most valuable content and ideas they have to offer, we only ask for mundane things: “How’s the weather?”, “Did you see the game last night?”, “What do you think about that Game of Thrones season finale?”. I’m not saying small talk is not useful, it really is, but there are so many more valuable things that we have to share.
Allowing the space for people in your company (regardless of their role or seniority) to share their stories will allow new and valuable ideas to spread through the company. From simple lessons about responsibility, accountability or time management to insights on how to manage conflict, how to launch a new product on the market, how to attract useful resources or how to avoid common mistakes in a specific field of work.
The possibilities are endless as long as we trust in our people that they will bring out the best in them and we offer them the proper spaces to speak up and share their experiences.
4. A Faster Recovery from Conflict, Failure or Changes
Most of the times our biggest obstacle is our own way of thinking. A constant Storytelling practice can make us all aware of our unhealthy patterns and our destructive tendencies, which is a crucial skill when confronted with conflicts, failure and changes.
If in moments like these we tend to exaggerate, to look for people to blame or to close ourselves in, that will only make the problem worse. However talking openly about what we are experiencing, the fears we have or the mistakes we are making under pressure help us gain more perspective over the issue and invites reflection and collaboration.
Storytelling can helps us keep our calm under stressful situations, see things from a different angle and reach out to other when we most need it.
5. Empowered Leaders and Employees
Each one of us is a hero in their own story. Internalizing this idea can helps us better understand how we can offer the best environment for personal growth and empowerment of our colleagues. As we become more aware of the process through which every hero grows and improves, we can learn how to add that wisdom to our leadership style.
By learning how to give people the freedom to go on their own adventures, take responsibility for their quest and actions, offer them the sage advice a good mentor in a story knows how to provide and being by their side as they overcome their limits and their obstacles, we become better leaders and they become better people.
We work together and we grow together.
Here at StoryArc we’ve dedicated our work to bringing the art and practice of Storytelling in companies, NGOs and educational institutions across Europe. If you would like to get an idea of the work we do, the benefits it can bring your company and sign up for a free demo session inside your company, then simply click here for more details!