By Denise Boudreau-Scott
Over the last few years, I have become more and more convinced that the best way organizations can sustain, or change, a culture is from hearing stories. A great story can have a profound effect on people’s beliefs and behaviors.
Leaders and organizations who use this to their advantage are often the ones I see performing at the highest levels. What are the stories that you want to tell and have told about your organization? Do they connect with people on an emotional level? Are you and others actually using them to tell others about your organization?
Inspiring Through Stories
United Methodist Communities (UMC) in New Jersey understands the power of story and has created new opportunities for sharing resident stories in the form of video. They not only gather great tales but are putting them to use to help spread the word about what life is like at UMC! The focus is on telling stories about the abundant life of residents, like a passionate 85-year-old bodybuilder who will make you want to get out of that chair and hit the weights! (Truly! I’ve been putting off my workout all day and now I MUST go to the gym when I finish writing this article!)
Capturing an Abundant Life
UMC sees the value of sharing these stories not only to connect on a more personal level to their residents but as a valuable sales tool to share what makes life at their communities special. When we talked about the power of stories, CEO Larry Carlson shared with me, “I’ve wanted to start our own version of StoryCorps, and I stumbled on Senior Housing Forum partner One Day. I thought how can we differentiate ourselves from all the noise? Instead of a note or call to say thank you we can make a video that says, ‘This is Robbie, I learned that your mom loved crab cakes and our chef is making them next week. Stop by for some!’”
UMC has seen much success with its use of stories. In fact, they share that the first time their salesperson used one, the very first one she did, she got a response from a family member thanking her for the thank you!
Recruiting Made Easier
Sharing these stories has also helped UMC on the recruitment side. When they asked themselves, “How can we differentiate ourselves from everyone else and recruit more of the right people?” The answer was through stories. Since then they’ve created a new series of connections to help with recruitment, all focused on the connections between staff and residents.
How can you use the power of story in your organization? Here are some great opportunities:
Help staff embrace a new process with an emotional story that makes them feel the need for the change.
Inspire your team to take action on a new project through a compelling story that builds up the “why” behind the project.
Market with relationship-based stories that help you stand out to potential residents/family members who are touring many organizations. (This also helps to engage the employee or resident who the story is about!)
Recruit new staff by means of touching stories that share how your organization is different from all the rest.
Connect with residents by hearing their stories and learning more about their needs and wants.
How are you using story in your organization? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!