The Power of Storytelling in the Workplace

The Power of Storytelling in the Workplace

How can companies harness the power of corporate storytelling to build open, empathetic workplaces where employees can truly be themselves?   Gian Power, Founder and CEO of TLC Lions explains why corporate storytelling is so important and how organisations can harness its power to bring out the best in their employees.

What led you to get into corporate storytelling?

I’ve always been fascinated by people and cultures and started my career in Deutsche Bank and PwC which were both competitive, high-performance organisations with a focus on individual goals.  But it was a personal tragedy that really led me to realise the power of corporate storytelling.  Whilst working for PwC, my dad was tragically murdered on a business trip to India.  I found myself leading an international murder investigation and my story was spread across the media.  What I found was that because my story was out there, people were suddenly willing to share their personal stories with me, stories they wouldn’t usually have shared in the workplace.  I realised that everyone has a story to tell and that if we all take time to listen to these stories, we can get so much more out of our workplaces.  

Why do you think storytelling is so important in organisations?

Firstly, there’s the human side.  We spend a significant proportion of our lives in the workplace and the more people share their stories and show personal emotions at work, the more they can be themselves and feel that their colleagues care for them.  This is especially important for team bonding and really helps to strengthen relationships which can be particularly valuable when people are working remotely.  There’s also a clear business benefit to this too, people who are able to be themselves at work are much more likely to put in extra effort which therefore boosts business productivity.  And people who feel emotionally connected to their colleagues and workplace are likely to have a much higher loyalty to the organisation and its brand, meaning they are more willing to put in extra effort and more likely to stay with that organisation.

How can firms use storytelling?

Storytelling is a great way for a company to bring their own corporate purpose alive, through their people.  Companies can use stories to explain what they stand for, to both their employees and their customers, to create a compelling vision that people can really buy into.  And as I said above, sharing stories amongst colleagues is a fantastic way to encourage employees to build more meaningful relationships at work which really strengthens team bonding and can contribute so positively to building more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

If a firm is looking to do more storytelling in the workplace, what are some of the practical things they could be doing?

I believe firms need to take both a top down and a bottom up approach to storytelling.  Senior leaders have a critical role to play; if they start sharing their stories then others will follow them.  This can be done in-person, on camera or in writing, depending on an individuals’ preference.  Sharing stories in this way can be a powerful trigger for others’ emotions and empathy.  But storytelling works best when it is also encouraged from the bottom up too, often more junior people in organisations feel more naturally comfortable with sharing and this should be encouraged and promoted to truly embed a culture of openness.  At TLC Lions, we provide external speakers with powerful stories to share which can really help to provide a different perspective and trigger people’s emotions, encouraging them to share their own stories.

Are there any difficulties or limitations with storytelling?

People have to be in the right mindset to share their stories, it’s not something you can force people to do.  And you have to find the right way for individuals to share, not everybody will feel comfortable with standing on stage and that’s fine.  It’s also important to make sure that the organisation has the right support measures on offer (such as an Employee Assistance Programme, counselling services etc.) for anybody who may want to make use of it.

Can you share any examples of firms who are doing something particularly exciting/great in this space? 

Allen & Overy are a great example of a firm who have taken both a top down and a bottom up approach to corporate storytelling.  They have a concept of ‘wellbeing from day 1’ where they support all their graduate recruits to share their stories and they also do work specifically with partners to get them sharing and help create a culture of openness.  Another company doing great work in this space is GSK who have taken a truly global approach and are working with all of their 57 countries to ignite emotion amongst employees across the globe.

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TLC Lions are igniting emotion back in the corporate world by bringing ordinary people with extraordinary stories together. They support some of the world's largest companies including GSK, Sony, Amazon, Deloitte among others and are creating more inclusive and emotionally engaged workforces through relatable role models, the TLC Lions.  The TLC Lions are powerful speakers with an ability to emotionally connect in their tailored sessions.  For more information on their work contact hello@tlclions.com or visit their Linkedin page

Released On 20th Feb 2020

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