Thursday, 16 October 2014

Webinar on Corporate Story Telling

Readers will recall my blog  titled "Stories from the work place" posted on 7th june, drawing attention to the importance of story telling and that  of sharing our success / challenge stories ( In the said post  I had shared stories & experiences of V. Bimal Senior manager marketing in Hyundai. Towards the end of the post, I had exhorted employees in corporates to tell their stories and suggested that HR take the initiative to encourage employees in this connection. subsequently in a post titled "Stories from the work place- Unforgettable incident", the learning experience of  S. Saravanan , a supervisor on the shop floor in Hyundai was shared in the form of a story. 

Being an interest area, I was thrilled to note that the People Matters magazine was arranging a webinar (which they called a twang out) on "Corporate story telling - an essential leadership quality" with  Dr Tanvi Gautham, Managing partner Global people tree. I am glad I participated in the twang out. Tanvi was described by the co host Savitha from People matters (Other host being Shivin, manager OD Mahindra & mahindra) as one of less than 100 certified story coaches in the world, In fact she is Asia's only and first certified story coach. with this introduction, I am sure readers are keen to learn more of the intricacies of story telling from the expert.So here goes...

The first question asked was "What is the leadership shift that we are talking about and why do we need to pay attention to it? Tanvi responded by stating that 'leadership' was an old economy concept & that there are no ships to run any more.In the present times however there are a series of shifts that leaders are required to handle such as the demographic shift with more working women & more diversity at the work place, technological shift etc. This calls for new tools for inspiring the 'Y' generation and story telling is one such important tool.

She said that story telling is both a science and an art and that with practice & learning one can become good at it.Although template can be developed as to the structure, at the end there is a need for an emotional connect with the audience which is made possible by modulating your story in terms of content, voice tone etc.

HR would do well to outsource all routine activities  and concentrate on the strategic aspects .They can be the catalyst for leading the shifts by preparing  leaders for effective story telling.

Stories can be used at the time of recruitment to get the right candidates. they can be used while on boarding( inducting your culture to the new employees through stories).They can be used for coaching. Stories help to bring in the emotional connect to new ideas during a change management initiative..

To a question as to what are the basic rules for good story telling, Tanvi replied that the rule #1 would be the element of curiousity & mystery as to what is coming next.This is achieved by careful release of information. Rule #2 is that the story should be authentic. It is only an authentic story that has the quality to be contagious & evoke energy. Rule #3 is  to bring an emotional connect with the audience .

Some of the common mistakes made while telling stories  are (1) not having a 'Why' for telling the story. It is not meant for entertainment! There should be a goal or purpose in telling the story, be it conveying values or inspiring to action.(2) the story being about ' I, Me & Myself' The audience should be able to identify with the stories & preferably a person  other than the speaker  should be the hero of the story.(3) The third mistake is not having an end to the story- Some people go on & on  and do not pay attention as  to whether the audience is paying attention.You should be sensitive to the audience response.

Finally, Tanvi  revealed that it takes around 3 weeks to polish the story to make it fit for delivery. Her organization trains in story telling at  what she called 'story labs'.During the course of the discussion , she also mentioned that she was averse to the use of the word" ROI" with respect to story telling. Instead of looking for return on investment managements ought to look out for 'ROE'  ie return on engagement. stories are an important way of engaging your employees. They should be concerned about the cost or the  loss incurred on employees not being engaged.

Overall, the discussions in the twang out, I found quite informative & interesting, more so because the subject is close to my heart and I believe in future telling & sharing our stories will go a long way - in engaging employees as Tanvi says or as Annette Simmons puts it  "whoever  tells the best story wins!"