I recently watched a keynote address by master storyteller, Kindra Hall. In it, she related that her company, Stellar Collective, had interviewed thousands of employees in hundreds of companies and asked these questions:
- Do you know the story of how this company was started and why?
- Do you know what challenges or setbacks this company has faced and conquered?
- Do you know what event or moments of which this company is most proud?
- Do you know where your founders have worked before starting this company?
They gave each question a score and then categorized the employees into groups based on their collective score such as “story literate” or “story illiterate.” They then compared these groups to levels of employee engagement. Here are the staggering results: “Story literate” employees were 240% more likely to be engaged while “story illiterate” employees were 800% more likely to be disengaged. 800%. I’d call that a sure thing.
And let’s think about engagement… what does it mean to have employees who are engaged at a high level with the team, the business initiatives, your clients? I believe it means a lot.
We have a literal army of salespeople, marketers, promoters, and champions within our teams, but we don’t invite them into those roles. They cannot tell a story they don’t know; they can’t care about a cause they can’t identify with, and they won’t step into passion they can’t feel. You can’t teach people to be passionate, but you can invite them into a story where they feel it for themselves.
For our team members to tell the story of why we do what we do in our work to others, they have to first hear and understand the story. And for them to hear it, we, as owners and leaders, must tell it to them… more than once.
Why do you do what you do? How did this company start and why? What challenges has the company faced and conquered? What are the moments so far of which you are the most proud? What is the movement you’re trying to create, spread, and advocate for? Of what are you a champion?
Kindra contends that there are four stories that your team should be able to tell in their own words: value stories, the founder story, purpose stories, and customer stories from real customers. If you want to see examples of each of these along with frameworks for finding, crafting, and telling these stories, order her book, Stories That Stick.
In the meantime, if you are an owner, carve out some time in your next team meeting to answer Kindra’s questions for your team and tell them your story. If you are a manager or team member who wants to increase your level of engagement and job satisfaction, ask for time at your next meeting to “interview” your owner about their story by asking them these questions. Either way, you’ll learn things you never knew and get connected to the unique reasons that your patients and clients will want to do business with you, and you’ll unleash an army of champions.
“A single purpose story has the ability to unite entire teams of people and reconnect them to the deeper meaning of their work.”
~ Kindra Hall