Three essential elements of corporate storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful business tool.  I was reminded of this during my visit last week to the January meeting of the Ohio State Council of SHRM.  Although I was there as an invited guest speaker, I certainly feel like I learned much from my friends in Ohio.

The stories being conveyed cover the range of good HR tales.  As often happens when HR folks gather, we are able to talk to others who live and understand the daily challenges that come into our world.  In many ways, it’s even a bit therapeutic to know that the weird event that happened at your workplace last week is not unique and that your reaction is considered normal in the typical human experience.

This provides a valuable lesson for communicating on a larger level as well.  So often, we are afraid to show some vulnerability to those around us.  Using stories as a tool can benefit organizations to incorporate others into an organization’s culture, its practices, and as a way to share information.  When using storytelling in an organization, there are three elements that can ensure we are being as effective as possible:

Does the story integrate some portion of your own story?  People need some personal connection so that they can incorporate the lessons into their personal meaning.

Does the story have an element that links the organization to others?  This builds on the larger sense of belonging that we have.

Does the story talk about the situation as it stands right now?  A story must tie the organization’s past to the present day and the current situation it finds itself facing.  It’s an opportunity to remind people that today’s challenges are often similar to those faced previously.

So, what’s your story and how does it convey your sense of the organization?

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