A fancy homepage, casual team pictures or thrilling image campaigns do not reveal how a company really operates. Stories, that we tell each other internally are the strongest indicator for our corporate culture, how we interact with each other and whether our working environment is actually healthy. These stories are filled with values and actions that take place every day between us, in the hierarchies and also with our customers.
Nevertheless, a development of a truly sustainable culture that involves and motivates each team member to work on a shared vision is easier said than done. Everyone who has worked in larger teams or companies can tell you a thing or two about it. Different personalities with individual needs, desires and goals come together in a small microcosm. In many traditionally grown companies, the internal culture is directed top-down and seen more as a primary task of the management. The inclusion of the entire team is usually not taken into account. But it is particularly the internal, real stories that define the spirit of the company: for example, senior consultants who have grown from trainees to a storytelling hero or curious career changers that offer completely different perspectives and ideas, thus bringing a breath of fresh air to our everyday lives.
With the help of stories, we at Mashup Communications cultivate our corporate culture and often discover new sides to it. I would like to introduce you to three storytelling formats that every company can easily use.
Our weekly get-together has evolved from a real time-waster into an entertaining round with lots of learnings, exciting anecdotes and a large pool of ideas. But how did this happen? We used to go through all customers, projects and important tasks alphabetically. From letter G at the latest, my thoughts wandered off and I only listened with half an ear, so as not to miss my cue when it was one of my clients’ turn. Of course, I had a guilty conscience every time, but I was relatively relieved when I found out that I wasn’t the only one to be bored as hell. So we had to make a change.
Away from the focus on individual clients, the respective teams now review the past week from their point of view: From personal successes to challenges, from anecdotes and learnings to anticipation and gratitude, there is at least one thing that is entertaining and worth knowing for each and every one in our whole team. But we don’t just share the winning stories. Quite the contrary! It’s about real, sometimes dark or weak moments in our everyday working life. How, for example, do other teams deal with the high expectations of their clients, critical questions from the editorial staff or supposedly difficult to place topics? Just by listening, we get excited about telephone pitches, and we celebrate together when there is a successful publication or a promising interview.
We also openly share our doubts, struggles and sometimes failures, what does not only reflect trust in the group, but also allows the connection within the agency and the self-confidence of each individual to grow, as each of us sometimes has such moments. Learn more about our meeting structure here: https://editionf.com/Storytelling-Team-Meeting-Sieben-Fragen-Mitarbeiter
With the newfound energy from the meeting, another project was suddenly on the agenda: the brandbook as our very personal compass to make it easier for new colleagues to join our community. Every company has its own rhythm, rules and visions. Together, we have asked ourselves what moves us, what is important to us and what we wish for. The result is not only a guide with the most important to-do’s and tricks for new interns, trainees or consultants, but also a small manifesto of our common values and needs, which bears our signature in word and illustration.
In our brandbook, every new and old employee will find out, for example, why and how our company was founded in the first place. Our corporate values are not only presented as buzzwords, but also with real anecdotes from individual employees, who tell stories of example situations for the respective values. In addition to specific role descriptions of individual positions, there are preventive conflict and time management tips and inspiring creativity techniques. In the same way, health and nutrition guides also highlight what is nevertheless important to us: our health. To prevent the brandbook from disappearing into the drawer after the first excitement, it is combined with a diary.
Let’s be honest – working in a team is nice, but at the same time sometimes very stressful. From the adrenalin junkie to the highly sensitive and the introverted freethinker, the most diverse personalities are represented in a team. And unlike in physical education back then, you can’t always choose the members of your very own small team, but yet have to find a way to bundle all strengths, complement each other and, above all, pull together. Mutual understanding is therefore very important – but first of all it is necessary to know what role we play in our team.
With the help of a Myer-Briggs-Personality test, we took a closer look at each and every one in our team and found out some quite astonishing things about ourselves. As a rather introverted contemporary, I would never have thought that as an ENFJ type or protagonist, I would actually have the necessary charisma to inspire my team and be the leader towards new horizons. Reversely, I also learned important things about the other members of my small team: All of a sudden, not only certain working methods and reactions suddenly became clear, but also the very own needs of each individual, which constitute the chemistry of our team.
A company’s culture is not a one-way street. With all its values, ideals and internal stories, it is the glue that holds team members – whether they are interns or CEOs – together and allows the whole company to grow. With storytelling alone, many areas of internal communication can be processed in an exciting and tangible way for everyone: From small highlights from the teams to real hero’s journeys. Stories are able to make dry information, which at first glance do not seem relevant to everyone, tangible with emotions and give the actual content a deeper, lasting meaning. For example, if we combine all the stories from our team, the bottom line is a common message: We accept the challenges and grow with them – with courage, trust, team spirit and lots of fun.