As humans, stories are how we connect with one another and make sense of the world. From fairy tales to blockbuster movies, stories have the power to captivate, connect, influence and inspire us. This is not just true in our personal lives; storytelling can be a powerful tool for rallying employees as well.
In her book Stories That Stick, best-selling author Kindra Hall explores the power of storytelling in business. According to Hall, “Stories are the tool that can help leaders inspire their teams, communicate their values and connect with customers on a deeper level.”
So why is storytelling such a powerful tool for aligning, inspiring and motivating employees within a company or organization? Beyond the fact that they spark an emotional connection in their audience, there are some specific ways in which stories create more engaged employees.
Stories create a sense of shared values and purpose.
When employees hear stories about how the company was founded, the challenges it has overcome, the impact it has had on customers and the world, they feel a greater sense of connection to the company’s mission and values — its purpose. This connection helps to build a strong sense of culture, respect and cooperation, which can lead to higher employee engagement and retention.
“The purpose story offers members of an established organization a reason to show up each day,” Hall writes. “To commit, to cooperate and to accomplish something together.”
Stories are a powerful tool for inspiring and motivating employees.
When employees are able to share their stories of achievement with their colleagues, they get a sense of the impact their work is having on customers and how their efforts are contributing to the company’s success; this fosters a greater sense of pride and motivation among employees, knowing they are being recognized and celebrated for their efforts. These stories help show employees that their work is meaningful and valued, and that they are valued, which can lead to higher job satisfaction and productivity.
“Stories are the tool that can help leaders inspire their teams to do their best work,” Hall notes. “They show employees how their work is making a difference, and they inspire them to keep pushing forward.”
Stories are a powerful way to communicate important information.
When employees hear stories about how the company is living out its values or how it is adapting to new challenges, they are more likely to remember and internalize these messages than if they were presented in a dry, data-driven way. This can help to create a more engaged, informed and invested workforce, which can ultimately lead to better decision-making and outcomes for the organization overall.
Like in many areas of our lives and careers, storytelling is an impactful tool. Stories have the power to align, inspire and motivate employees, helping boost a company’s recruitment and retention efforts, improve its culture, contribute to its bottom line and enhance its ability to have an impact on the world. As Kindra Hall notes, “Aligning what can eventually amount to a small army of people and inspiring them to take action every day is a daunting but critical task, one that leaders would be wise to turn to storytelling for.”