The Power of Storytelling in Business – Part 2: How to Use Storytelling for Team Building
When you view your mission statement and core values through the lens of a story, it opens up a whole new world of understanding for you and your employees. In this article, we’ll look at why you should use storytelling for team building, plus a 3-step plan to do just that.
How many times do your employees refamiliarize themselves with your company’s mission statement and core values? If your business is like most, they’ll only see it if they read through the employee manual, and most of them don’t even do that…
An effective team is one that is on the same page, working toward the same goal, with each team member understanding their role and feeling like they are an important part of moving the company forward.
Most mission statements and core values not only fall short of providing that but are too long, too wordy, and too abstract for any employee to really grasp. As a business leader, you need to be clear with your team. And the best way to do that is with a story.
This is Part 2 of a series that delves into the importance of storytelling in business. Part 1 looked at it in terms of B2B interactions. Here, we’re going to look at it in terms of interactions with your employees.
Let’s get right to it!
Why You Should Use Storytelling for Team Building
A story takes us on an adventure. We are guided along the journey with the characters, striving to get to the destination. A good story will make you feel like you’re inside of it and part of it.
Bringing storytelling into your business will have similar effects on your team. By inviting them into your company’s story, they’ll have a much different view of where they’re going.
Here’s what will happen…
Your Team Members Will All Be on the Same Page
When each team member is on the same page, they’re all working for a shared purpose.
Most employees have no idea what the mission statement and core values are for the company they work for. They go to work every day, and they have no clue what that company’s purpose really is. And that’s understandable because most business owners don’t really either.
Storytelling for team building is going to change all of that. Those things will be ingrained in your employees’ heads, not because you beat it over them but because you made it memorable and understandable with a story.
Each Team Member Will Be Motivated
As part of the story, each team member will be a character in the story, which means they will all have their own role to play to ensure the end result.
They go to work each day, and they have a reason for why they are there and what they are doing. Because they have an individual purpose, they feel motivated and eager to do their work to the best of their ability.
Too many people feel stuck in jobs that are meaningless. Storytelling for team building brings meaning to their work, helping them to feel more fulfilled, working together for a purpose, and building a strong brand along the way.
They Will Be Your Brand Ambassadors
When your team is part of a story, they will “get it” on a much different level than they would otherwise.
When they are out and about in their lives, they’ll be able to tell others what your company is doing and what you’re all about in a much more comprehensive way. They’ll be able to easily answer questions while staying consistent with the company message. Essentially, they’ll become your best advocates.
That means, they’ll be out there building your brand.
How to Use Storytelling for Team Building
The first thing you need to know is that the story you’ll be creating is the core of what your business is all about. You’re going to get crystal clear on why you do what you do and what matters to you, and then you’re going to tell a story that ensures your superstar employees have just as much clarity.
Here’s what you need to do…
1. Turn Your Mission Statement into the Story Plot
You probably created a mission statement and core values for your business back at its inception. And they’re probably tucked away in a folder somewhere, right?
Or maybe, you’re a step ahead of others and you actually painted them on a wall in your office or revisit them in team meetings here and there. Kudos to you for that, but we’re about to level it up considerably.
When we’re talking about storytelling for team building, your mission statement takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes the plot of the story.
Your mission statement and core values (which we’ll look at in the next step) work together to answer three key questions:
- Where are we going?
- Why does it matter?
- What’s my role in it?
Your mission statement should answer the first two questions. It should explain where your business is going and why it matters.
So, what does this look like?
Well, a mission statement for someone in the home remodeling business might look like any of the following:
- “We build beautiful additions and ensure our customers aren’t stressed about having strangers in their homes.” (since, let’s face it, having strangers in your house can be nerve-racking)
- “We provide high-quality home repairs without the wait.” (since it can be so difficult to get someone fast)
- “We do honest work, provide honest estimates, and tell our customers like it is.” (since so many people are tired of feeling swindled)
As you can see, what you’re often selling is peace of mind more than anything else. And that’s the heart of what you need to get to in your mission statement.
2. Develop Roles through Core Values
The third question your story is answering (out of the three questions we mentioned above) is brought into play with your core values. They help each employee to understand their role.
And what your core values really need to do is demonstrate how your team members are supposed to behave. They are the actors in your story, and you need to give them a script so that they understand what their character is supposed to be like.
Your core values also need to be actionable. Instead of a list of 20 random words, each value should be like a call to action.
Keep it to 3 core values because most people can’t remember or connect with more than that.
Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand, lists his core values as:
- Be the Guide – In everything that you do, help the customer win. Find out what their finish line is and get them there.
- Be Ambitious – Always say we’re here to win.
- Be Positive – In almost every situation, see the bright side.
He also suggests putting them in order. For example, the number one core value will override the others in certain circumstances.
3. Tell the Story through Team Meetings & Employee Interactions
When you get clear on your mission statement and core values and think about them from the perspective of a story plot and character roles, it takes your brand to a whole new level. And it will direct your whole team in each situation that comes up.
Refer to your story in everything you do, including:
- Staff meetings
- Interactions between management and employees
- Interactions between coworkers
- When there is resistance from a team member
- When a team isn’t working well together
- When morale is low
- Quality assurance
Storytelling for team building isn’t a once and done thing. You need to keep revisiting it. Better yet, it just needs to be there directing the workplace day in and day out. Do that and it will make all the difference.
Too many companies forget to share their brand story in-house, and most companies don’t even know about storytelling for team building. But good leaders don’t just delegate tasks; they invite their employees into a story—one where they play a crucial role in accomplishing the mission of the company.
When your team feels that way, they’ll bring that extra effort to make a difference in the world through your company.