22 Nov Connect your people to vision and purpose through storytelling
By Gemma Manning
Employee productivity is fundamental to the success of any business. We know that high-performing people add significant value to their team and positively impact the bottom line. In fact, research by Business 2 Community found that companies with engaged and productive people outperform those without by an incredible 202%.
What many leaders struggle with is connecting people to a sense of purpose in their work – a key driver of high performance and productivity. People who feel connected to the purpose, meaning and vision of the organisation they work for are far more motivated to succeed. They are also more likely to become loyal brand advocates.
Powerful storytelling is a great way to connect people to the vision and purpose of the business. When I say storytelling, I mean the way you communicate what your brand represents – who you are, what you stand for, what you are trying to achieve, and who you are trying to help.
Here are my three top tips on why connecting your people to vision and purpose through storytelling is fundamental to success.
1. Connect with people on an emotional level
The way a person feels about their work has a huge impact on their level of engagement, performance and productivity. However, people’s feelings at work are only partly about the work itself.
The way a person perceives the organisation they work for is more important. Ask yourself: do your people see what they’re doing as a mindless ritual? Do they see it as empty obedience? Or do they see it as a meaningful and exciting venture?
Storytelling is an art that requires the ability to connect with your people on an emotional level. If you change people’s perception of a brand, you can impact the way they feel about their work and significantly boost performance.
In my experience, there’s nothing quite like storytelling to change people’s perceptions of a brand and ensure they feel connected to a sense of purpose and meaning in their roles.
2. Facts tell, but stories sell
By mastering the art of storytelling, you can spark interest in your brand and inspire your people to get engaged at work and achieve their goals. A compelling story is key to business success – and it needs to be clearly and consistently communicated across every platform, from your website, to social media, to team workshops. If the story isn’t consistent, your people will not be convinced of its authenticity.
A powerful brand story first needs an inciting incident that draws people into the narrative. Think about the vision behind the business. Why was it created? What was its initial purpose and aim? Where does it fit in the market?
Second, the story needs strong characters, including a protagonist (this could be you or the original founder of the business) and an antagonist (your competitors), as well as a sense of conflict and resolution. Think about the obstacles that have been overcome in setting up the business. Tell the world how resolving conflict has lifted your business to new heights and you will motivate people to get engaged.
3. Be an inspiring leader
The first responsibility of leaders is to provide employees with a visceral connection to the purpose and vision of the organisation they work for. Measures of discretionary effort among employees – the gap between what people are giving and what they are capable of giving – show that most employees are not fully engaged in their roles.
According to research by Gallup, when employees are not fully engaged in their roles, they have 37% higher absenteeism and 60% more errors and defects. The consequence of disengaged people is not just lower productivity; it’s unhappiness at work and lower quality of life. Half-hearted effort isn’t fun for anyone, including the employees themselves.
Savvy leaders should use their creativity to find the story ‘hook’ that connects people to purpose at work. Captivate your team on an emotional level, with a story so compelling that they want to stay in your business.
By improving employee engagement and productivity through storytelling, you will strengthen your brand, better align your workforce to the organisation’s mission and values, and positively impact the bottom line.
This article was first published in The CEO Magazine.