This blog was written by Darrell Harmon, HR Business Partner and member of our People Strategy team at Helpside.
Once upon a time, there was an idea. The Idea was Rory’s brainchild, who thought it was pretty good. He shared the idea with some friends, who also thought it was good. One thing led to another and, before you could say “entrepreneur,” the idea was a product and Rory was in business! The idea was so good, in fact, that in no time Rory’s business was booming to the point that he had to start hiring help—lots of help.
As Rory hired more and more employees, the feel of the company changed. What started out as a small, cohesive group all dedicated to the idea, eventually turned into just a job for the newest recruits. They didn’t seem to get how important the idea was, nor how their individual jobs supported the mission. This bothered Rory. People didn’t seem energized by the idea as he had been. They didn’t really know how to apply their skills and passion in ways that delivered the full value of the idea. Rory was stumped.
Then, Casey told Rory about the power of stories to inspire and motivate employees. Rory thought that was another great idea and immediately wrote a fairytale about the idea. No, Rory. Not that kind of story.
Instead, Casey helped Rory think back to the beginning when the idea was new. What was it that made Rory and his friends so excited about it? What problems did the idea solve? What opportunities did it open up for everyone? This was the story to tell.
In addition to the story about the founding of the company, Casey encouraged Rory to watch for wins the company had that related to the idea. These, too, would make for great stories to tell his employees:
- What are customers saying?
- Are there competitors trying to copy the Idea? (Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you know.)
- How has the Idea made a difference at key moments in the company’s lifespan?
Once Rory answered those questions, he began telling those stories to new employees when they joined the company and in company meetings with existing employees. He posted visuals that represented the idea, like happy customers using the idea to make their lives better and he identified the values that best represent the idea, like innovation, simplicity, and scalability.
Now, this story may seem a little silly, but the concept it illustrates is serious. People respond to real-life stories in ways that data alone (e.g., employee handbooks, work instructions, and quarterly financials) don’t move them. Your founding story is perhaps the best way to breathe new life into your workforce. So, build your story repertoire. Share stories of how your employees’ actions align with company values, how your company turns customers into fans, and why people should be proud to work there.
Here at Helpside, our founders wanted to start a business that was personal. Nearly 30 years later, we haven’t lost that personal touch. Our mantra is “Business is Personnel” and we mean it. And we tell it to each other in various ways all the time. We share it in monthly team meetings, emails, and one on one meetings. Find ways to keep your stories going and reap the benefits.
If you need help figuring out your story or the best way to share it, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our People Strategy team has storytelling experts who would love to help you craft your story.
You’ve heard “rags to riches” stories of people who had nothing yet built successful companies and lives. Sharing your company’s history will bring it to life and create your own “roots to riches” success.