Have you ever listened—I mean really listened—to the stories that your employees tell in your organization? Are they inspiring stories about the time the team worked hard and saved the customer? Are they motivating anecdotes about the time all the senior managers pitched in to meet a publication deadline?
Are they inspiring stories about coworkers that created a big win for the group? Do they talk about a continual conversation with customers that inspires the direction of product development, marketing, and customer success teams? Do they celebrate the team that brought the project to a close prior to the deadline?
Or, do your work stories sound more like complaints? The indeterminate "they" didn’t like my idea. They expected too much from me and failed to provide the tools and resources I needed to succeed. And, the perennially disempowering story about, “they wouldn’t let me,” whether the story holds true or not, it slams the brakes on many employees’ dreams for autonomy and adding value.
Do your employees’ stories about work reinforce your desired company culture and bring out the characteristics of your best employees? Or do the work stories paint a picture of a culture that you know will sabotage both your organization’s success and your employees’ success?
How Employee Stories Shape Company Culture
The tone and the content of your work stories are powerful forces in shaping and strengthening your company culture. What your employees share with each other and talk about frequently becomes imprinted on the mind of your organization.
Here’s what you can do to ensure that your employee stories are inspiring, enabling, and reinforce your desired company culture.
Discover What Stories Exist in Your Organization
Listen carefully and ask employees what kinds of stories they hear and tell. This step is revealing as you’ll develop a picture of how work stories are currently shaping your culture. There are additional ways to assess the state of your current culture.
If You’re Less Than Happy About Your Workplace Stories, Make a Plan to Change Them
With a cross-sectional team of your employees, develop a plan to help your team change their stories. By forming the team and paying attention to the stories being told, you’ve taken the first shaky steps in changing the narrative of your workplace. You now have a team of people who are listening and aware of the power of stories in your culture.
Start Telling Your Own Stories
Ensure you’re telling positive, inspiring stories at any management and employee meetings that are regularly held in your company. Make a commitment as a management team to walk your talk and reinforce the culture with positive work stories.
Weave Employee Recognition into Compelling Employee Stories
Talk about the contribution made by a particular employee—I’m sure you won't have to look far to find one. Write the story down and share it with the employee receiving recognition. Recognize the employee publicly by telling the story about his or her positive contribution.
When a manager wants to recognize an employee with a gift card or check, that’s a story worth telling. Make sure that the story is told, written, and publicized to other employees. (On the plus side, other employees want to know what is necessary to gain recognition. Stories help illuminate the path for them!)
Once you uncover the inspiring, powerful stories hidden within your company, share them. Pass them on, and spread the message of your employer brand.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® is the Global Authority on Workplace Culture. We make it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.