Employee training has grown to become more important in the age of automation than ever before, but many entrepreneurs and business managers still don’t appreciate the time-honored human tradition of narrative building when it comes to equipping their human capital with the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century marketplace. Storytelling remains one of the most effective and engaging ways to spread knowledge, and for good reasons; few things resonate with men and women of all ages more than the allure of character-building narratives packed with sentimental and informed insights.
Here’s how you can harness the power of storytelling to retrofit your employee training program overnight.
Understanding the allure of storytelling
Before we begin diving into how business managers should approach storytelling when it comes to training their rookie and veteran employees alike, it’s worth considering why storytelling is so beneficial in the first place, especially as it pertains to knowledge. For countless generations, humans have shared stories amongst themselves as a way of transferring crucial knowledge from one source to another; from contemporary bed-time stories that are read to children to ancient myths spread around ancestral firepits, recalling heroic and inspiring stories has always been a fundamental part of what it means to be human.
The allure of storytelling isn’t only sentimental, however; storytelling is also scientifically proven to be an excellent way to learn. There’s a reason our ancestors past information from one another through narrative tales – it worked. Research has proven time and time again that the value of storytelling remains immense when it comes to passing off knowledge to new sources, and entrepreneurs who are hoping to give their employees the skills and information they need to succeed in the contemporary workplace, which seems everchanging, should come to appreciate the value of incorporating storytelling into their own employee training programs.
Now that you can better appreciate storytelling methods when it comes to relaying information from one person to another, how can you incorporate narrative-building and story-sharing into your employee training exercises? First and foremost, leaders need to learn how to be effective storytellers, which is a more crucial skill in the 21st century than perhaps ever before. Stories are simply enthralling; we love rolling narratives with established heroes and villains, and can’t get enough anecdotes or vivid examples to help illustrate complex ideas that are otherwise hard to articulate. Because of this, you should begin emphasizing storytelling during employee training sessions, but also around the everyday office space, too.
If you still doubt the power of stories, let research from the Harvard Business Review sate your demands for evidence; the human brain is all-but chemically addicted to storytelling, professionals tell us. We are immensely social creatures, and narrative-building and tale-weaving is essential when it comes to communicating complex thoughts that otherwise elude our kens. Here are some easy-to-remember tips that you can harness when it comes to your next employee retreat or training session, if you’re interested in harnessing the power of storytelling.
Getting your employees involved
The first tip you need to remember in order to tell a good story is that it needs to be engaging, meaning you need to rope your employees directly into the process. Your tales should be down to earth and relatable, and apply to every single one of your employees; for managers who are dealing with diverse staffs, this may seem to be an insurmountable challenge, but as a matter of fact, there’s a great deal of unifying themes across the stories disparate cultures tell one another that you can rely upon to succeed when it comes to conveying your message.
Aristotle, for instance, laid out an astonishingly easy to follow storytelling formula that’s been repeated by virtually every culture in the world; namely, good stories have a beginning, middle, and end, and have 7 key elements that storytellers can’t afford to forget. Brush up on these elements before you try to tell team-boosting stories to your employees, and you can’t fail when it comes to crafting an enthralling tale that ropes them in from the get-go.
Of course, you’ll need patience; as every storyteller learns, writers block and the inability to formulate the end of a heart-racing story can stymie you at every turn. That’s why you need to remember that, as far as employee training programs go, storytelling should be light hearted, relatable, and not too complicated. You don’t want to bore your workers with droning tales recounted in monotone; keep in simple, down to earth, and applicable to diverse backgrounds, and you’ll be set to succeed.
Look around you in your everyday life for signs of storytelling, and you’ll see how and why it’s so vital towards our development as human beings. Start relying on storytelling for your employee training purposes as soon as possible, and you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor in no time.
A social media marketing executive and entrepreneur, Alex has led the marketing divisions of some of the UK's leading advertising and PR firms. He specializes in usng the power of big data and business analysis to deliver actionable metrics.
As manager of a large team of digital marketers, Alex is responsible for delivering the training and development of his entire department. He emphasises standardizing procedures and creating an immersive on-boarding process as key to bringing new members to your team.
Outside business, Alex is a keen videographer and music producer, living and working in Brighton, UK.