Who doesn’t love a great story? Organizations of all sizes and across all industries can benefit from weaving storytelling practices into their work – especially now when we’re all trying so hard to stay connected and engaged with our colleagues.
Through Avanoo’s work with tens of thousands of employees across many industries, we’ve found there are three basic types of stories that are most effective for building relationships and creating cultural shifts: Recognition, Personal Sharing, and Learning & Wisdom.
Recognition stories are all about building camaraderie and positive momentum. Research shows positive teams are more productive, so encourage your teammates to share stories that uplift and honor each other.
One way to do this is with celebrations: stories of hard work, perseverance, and success in the face of whatever challenges the coronavirus is creating for your organization.
You might think everyone knows about that big client upsell Cheryl closed on Tuesday, but they might not know the details of how she pulled it off. So tell them! A quick story will let Cheryl know you see how her empathy and quick thinking won over her customer, plus it gives everyone a chance to share the joy of her success.
And let’s be honest: Your team could use a win right now.
One of the best predictors of employee engagement is whether we feel like we have a best friend at work. When we make time to share personal stories, we help our colleagues get to know us more deeply.
It’s sometimes shocking how little we know about the people we spend the majority of our time around. Ask yourself: How well do you know even the basic details of your colleagues’ lives outside of work?
If the answer is “quite a bit, actually” – then great! Time to go deeper and explore a bit more vulnerable sharing together.
But if you’re struggling to name your coworkers’ kids, or maybe even to put a firm number on just how many kids they have, then start with the basics. Ask your teammates to share stories about their loved ones. Tell them about your own spouse, children, roommates, pets, or friends, and give a glimpse of what life is like at home.
It may take more than a few stories to establish a new best work friendship, but hey – you gotta start somewhere.
You learn things every day; so does each of your colleagues. When you turn those experiences into stories, you help draw attention to the ways you’re all constantly growing and improving.
One of our habits here at Avanoo is to regularly share about how we’ve discovered and implemented new “best practices”. Of course the tips & tricks that help our marketing team might not apply directly to a software developer or customer success rep, and vice versa. But by framing the advice as a story, folks on other teams can experience our process for thinking through the problem and identifying a solution for themselves, which often sparks ideas that help them look at their own work differently too.
Think about the insights or best practices your team has developed recently. Who else has heard about them?
Sharing those stories with your colleagues – especially across teams, departments and locations – is a great way to break down silos and quickly scale learnings and improvements throughout your organization.
There you go: three types of stories you and your team can start sharing to improve your work together. Try these as prompts the next time your team gets together, and let us know how it goes!
—Ted Burnham, Avanoo Lead Content Marketer
Ted Burnham loves the power of words – to tell stories, explain big ideas, and help people connect. He is a writer, editor, multimedia producer, storyteller, and “professional combobulator”. Ted’s work has appeared on NPR, Popular Science, and elsewhere.
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