As companies embrace storytelling as a method for more meaningful and effective employee communications, they need to find the people who bring their brand to life.
And while a CEO or VP or manager can articulate a mission or explain the reasons behind a new initiative, we urge our clients to also put a spotlight on employees who show the company values at work.
The response to that idea is always positive, followed by frustration once they start trying to find just the right employee to feature.
But all it takes is a shift in thinking, developing a few discovery tactics and letting go of an image of the “perfect” story.
As we say in our Unsung Nashville profile series, “Everyone in town has a story.”
Every one in a company has one, too.
Pick someone unexpected
Don’t look for a story. Find a person and then get their story.
- Look around for someone who does an interesting but little understood job in the company.
- Ask a manager who is the most liked or most respected member of their staff.
- See if there is someone who regularly posts positive thoughts on the company’s Facebook page.
In an employee newsletter for a large truckstop chain, we featured a cashier whose ever-present smile and a positive attitude brightened the day of both customers and co-workers.
A magazine for a healthcare client looked at a child life specialist who helped young hospital patients understand their illness and treatment in a kid-friendly way.
These weren’t the star employees who landed the biggest deal or won a state award, but they were interesting and relatable.
Featuring them showed others that employees who do their job steadily, reliably and cheerfully are noticed and appreciated.
Let your customers choose
If your company uses a customer feedback program, use it to discover employees who have done something to impress.
Yelp reviews and Facebook posts are other good resources to find out who’s getting high-fives from the people who use your services or product.
These are the people who help build a company’s reputation, and they can offer valuable insight to others about good customer interactions.
Send out an email or post a notice in the employee publication itself: “We want to share your stories.”
Ask readers to tell you who to put in the spotlight. A brave few may nominate themselves for the honor, but more will suggest a co-worker.
Give a few hints to get everyone thinking:
- Who never fails to lend a helping hand when needed?
- Who keeps everybody’s spirits up in your department?
- Who is a customer favorite?
- Who has an interesting history with the company?
Not only do you get some great story ideas, but your company’s employees are taking a moment to recognize and praise each other.
Here’s the big secret: Once a company starts finding those employees and sharing their stories, more suggestions start pouring in.
Colleagues, supervisors, customers and even family members will point you to a special person with a sweet or wonderful or incredible story to tell, because they see that your company values its people.
Instead of a drought of candidates, there will be a flood of possibilities, and all you’ll need to do is pluck one from the pile.