We work with a lot of amazing organizations, leaders, and those individuals that they lead. We’ve been lucky enough to work with these folks in every industry from healthcare to fast food and no matter how often we work with these groups, we’re always amazed by one thing:
Telling stories bonds people together.
Think about it. You have a story to tell.
If prompted, I bet you could get in front of a room full of people and tell the story of your life. Regardless of whether or not you feel your life’s story is worth telling (it is), one thing I know we can agree on is that you wouldn’t spend the time giving us a moment-by-moment detailed list of your life.
No, you’d give us emotional heartfelt moments of your life. You’d give us real. The same holds true with your organizations.
Now more than ever your employees are searching for purpose and clarity. In fact, one recent study showed that almost 50% of millennials are willing to take a pay cut to work for a place that has shared values.
Employees are also aware of how the business reflects back on society. Long gone are the days of businesses working for their own riches first. It’s standard practice today to see companies and organizations spend time and resources on societal causes that are important to leaders. However, there’s still a gap in the perception of these efforts to employees. In fact, in a 2015 Deloitte survey of over 7800 millennials, over 78% reported feeling that their place of work focuses on their own agendas rather than improving society.
This doesn’t mean leaders should run out and start non-profit organizations to appease their millennial employees. What it does signify is that employees are searching for meaningful moments at work.
And you want to know the best part? You have all the tools you need to make an impactful moment happen right now.
Every single company or organization has what I like to call their “creation formation story”. It’s a list of events or moments that led to ‘today’ as told by those who have lived it or knew someone who has.
Now, I’m not talking about the business plan or the value proposition of the company you (or others) created. No, I’m talking about the emotional moments that led to the “Why are we here?” question.
What I’m about to teach you is a way to incorporate these amazing stories (both good and bad) into your next meeting or event.
Why is this important? Besides all of the data suggesting (remember above) how employees are searching for purposeful moments at work, this practice will also improve trust, increase transparency, and allow leaders to be seen as the real, emotional beings that they are.
Plus, it’s cool to for employees (both young and old) to hear the stories that led to “today”.
Peaks and valleys
One of the many things that AMPT does for leaders is help them create their core values. This is a session that we created to help leaders realize the important moments and emotion behind the values their business or organization espouses. It’s an effective, fun and (sometimes) emotion-filled practice that we fully stand behind.
What you need to get it started:
- A room full of eager ears. It could be a leadership meeting or total company-wide event. Whatever it is, be prepared to share and share honestly and authentically. No holding back here. *Insider tip* create what we call “trust bonds” by asking everyone in attendance to enter into a full trust bond. What’s a trust bond? It’s a promise, read aloud where each attendee and participant promises to create a positive and private moment so everyone feels comfortable sharing. Number one rule: no judgment.
- A white board or projector to show everyone a time line. This will be used to highlight important moments. Directly in the middle of the board you’ll write a straight line across the entire space. This is your time line. With another colored marker you’ll write another straight line towards the top of the board and another towards the bottom of the board. The top line is your “peak line” and the bottom one is your “valleys” one.
- Someone to start it off. This is typically the founder or leader whom has knowledge of the story of the company. It’s critical to focus on the moments that led up to the start of the company (or key point in your time line that you want to highlight, like the construction of a new building).
The peaks and valley practice:
It’s quite simple actually. Starting with your leader, he or she tells the “creation formation story”. Tell all the details. Get serious. Get emotional. Get weird. The more honest you are – the better.
- At each moment along the time line you pinpoint a moment as either a Peak or a Valley and make a mark on the time line. It’s at that moment that you tell the story that corresponds with that moment in time.
- Once the story has been told – you ask others to summarize that story into one word or phrase that summarizes the story just told. It’s important to sometimes ask for help because some might still be digesting the story.
- Move on down the time line. Be diligent with your time but feel free to field questions.
- Ask others to participate as well. Sometimes we ask the leader to conduct the entire practice alone. Other times it makes sense for a “host” or key-leader to conduct the practice and instead ask for stories as he or she moves down the time line.
- Collect the group summaries to create a historical perspective of your company.
- The stories are what matter. Yes, the information learned will be extremely valuable. It’s helped leaders get across the ideas or moments that led up to critical decisions in a company but what is most valuable is the actual telling of the story.
We want to hear your thoughts or stories, too. Connect with us on our social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Tweet, comment or message us with how this practice helped build your team. We love to hear how others are engaging and motivating their teams.
Want help conducting this session and learn other ways to engage your team? Just EMAIL US and we can help you out.