How organisations can empower employees to be the narrators of their story
By Bianca McFadyen ( Marketing & Communications Manager)
In a time where access to information, and the noise from external inputs such as social media have never been louder, ensuring your messaging gets maximum exposure, can be challenging.
Generally, people tend to trust stories told to them by people that they spend time with and have built relationships with. For companies, this can be used to their advantage by using employees to share their stories directly, giving the message a higher level of authenticity in the minds of your staff than an external party, or some kind of internal campaign, could achieve.
When these stories are captured and cultivated, and employees are given the necessary guidance, businesses can use them to deliver actionable and relevant internal communications stories for five key areas.
1. Bringing teams together
Stories of team and individual success are incredibly empowering for everyone within the business, and celebrating these wins openly and directly can unite all with a sense of shared pride and achievement.
2. Alignment to business objectives
Instead of the objectives being shared through bullet points in a slide deck, an engaging story told by employees of all levels, interwoven with the key goals and objectives will align everyone in the business to those common goals. Layering in the values of the company will have an even greater affect.
3. Building capability
This is especially powerful for technical teams. By sharing a new process or solution through an employee story (sharing key actions, lessons learned and the honest frustrations experienced getting to the end point), we allow other employees to gain knowledge through a very reliable source. This generates confidence for both the storyteller and those who can learn from them.
4. Employee engagement and connection
By sharing something deeply personal or a story that stirs emotions, a storyteller can build connections across the business and bring everyone together through shared empathy.
5. A new business process/procedure
A communications area that is usually delivered in a dry way can be far more engaging when delivered by employees who can authentically share the benefits they have gained or will gain from the new process.
There are various ways to find and capture these stories, although maybe surprisingly, the simplest way works wonders. Openly asking all employees to contribute can be powerful, especially if it is to highlight the great work of others. People in leadership positions can also highlight top performers as a source of engaging stories to share across the business. It is important to ensure that the key messages are shared beforehand, so the team knows what to look out for, but as much as possible let employees tell the story in their own words.
Guiding the narrators to tell compelling stories
Not everyone is a natural storyteller in written or spoken form, so it is vitally important for companies to give the right support and guidance to empower employees to deliver their best stories authentically.
Regardless of the format, there are a few critical elements that will help frame the narrative.
• Who is the audience? i.e. their team, division, or the entire business?
• What is the key moral of the story?
• Why will the audience find this useful?
• How did I achieve the success I am going to share? What were the biggest challenges I faced?
• What would I find most interesting about my story that I think others might find engaging?
The last point is quite powerful because if you have employees aligned to the same objectives, an employee will know what others will find empowering and inspirational.
If it is a story that is being shared by a live presentation or video, consider offering public speaking or presentation coaching beforehand to build confidence. Also, having experienced speakers available to positively share feedback during practice runs will allow companies to develop a stable of great storytellers across the business over time.
Use this great asset within your business – your people, empower them and guide them towards narrating their own stories of learning, achievement and success. This is a technique organisations can use to create and share much more engaging and memorable messaging.
Let your people tell your story for you.