How a Story Can Make or Break Your Company Culture - HighGround

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How a Story Can Make or Break Your Company Culture

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Nothing beats a good story. On the other hand, nothing is more uncomfortable than a bad one. Companies are now realizing the power of a good storyteller and how a compelling narrative can affect business. In fact, United Airlines recently announced it named a chief storyteller. According to the airline, “The idea is using stories to give employees and customers a window seat to how we’re doing things and changing things and making a positive difference.”

As United noted above, employees are essential to crafting a company’s narrative. Here’s how employees play a critical role in telling your story so you’re known as one of the best around.

Employees can and should create their own stories

We said earlier that there’s nothing more uncomfortable than someone telling a rambling, aimless story at a party. Unfortunately, many employees feel exactly the same way about their own jobs – it’s going nowhere, it’s getting boring and they’re just looking for an easy way out.

Cision, a Chicago-based software company, understood that employees need a way to own their professional narrative. Employees’ stories begin on their first day at Cision and consist of a series of experiences as they progress through their career.

So the company developed and launched an employee engagement program branded as “StoryBoard.” Cision uses HighGround’s real-time performance and engagement platform to help employees craft a professional story that propels them toward better development. Ultimately, employees are in control of their professional story.

Like any other story, the best ones are usually told from firsthand experience. When employees create their own goals and are encouraged to initiate regular check-in conversations with their managers, they’re more likely to perform better – telling a much better, more compelling professional story.

Employees are the best narrators of your company culture – good or bad

Even if you don’t have a designated “official” storyteller, don’t worry. Employees are the best ambassadors of your company’s narrative. But depending on your company culture, this can be either a good thing or a very, very bad thing.

If your culture is a mess, it’s not going to be a very well-kept secret. Your company story (in this case, also known as gossip) can be incredibly destructive to morale and performance. Likewise, happy employees are the best spokespeople for your organization. Whether they’re providing exceptional customer service or acting as unofficial recruiters when talking about their jobs, employees can convey your culture in a very powerful, compelling way.

So how do you ensure that employees are telling your company’s story positively? It starts with creating positive employee experiences. Empower your employees to be active participants in not only their own professional story, but listen to their ideas for strengthening the larger corporate narrative. And like any story, it’s not just about listening to employee ideas – leadership must actually take action on those recommendations. Like any story, what’s the point if there’s not a lesson learned?

Who do you rely on to tell your company story? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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