What do new employees take away from their first impression of your company?

In most “process-oriented” companies, people’s first impression is usually a binder full of policies, checklists, and forms telling explicitly what to do, and what to not do. In product-oriented companies, new hires might get a sample of your company’s main offering — a new computer, a shiny bike, a delicious box of chocolates — along with that same binder of rules. If your company’s product isn’t tangible, that binder might come with a pile of marketing material on the strategic/integrated/value-added/flexible/contextual/virtual/something-as-a-service your company sells. I don’t know about you, but the only thing I’d be interested in is the chocolate.

Good news! There is a better way to communicate your company’s values and engage your employees: infuse your culture with the power of storytelling. Some of the longest lasting and most inspiring organizations in the world use story to educate, invigorate, and motivate their staff. I know the word “story” has become a buzzword, but that’s just story with a little “s.” What I’m talking about is story with a big “S”: the art of communicating your ideas using a persuasive narrative structure. It’s a story that has a beginning, middle, and end, and uses dramatic principles of tension and contrast to move your audience to a different state of thinking, feeling, and acting.

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