John began holding “Ask me anything” lunches when COVID turned the world on its axis. They were designed to give employees an opportunity to learn more about their “essential business.”
During the first year, meetings focused on company issues and the whys of mandated policies. As restrictions have been lifting, John decided to change the focus to learning more about the employees themselves. During introductions, he asks everyone to share something people probably don’t know about them.
- JoAnne was widowed at a young age
- Maria has 10 grandchildren with the 11th on the way
- Joe has been to every continent in the world except one
- When Paul was young, he traveled the United States, playing in a heavy metal rock band
- Jerry is a fourth-generation farmer and extremely proud of his two sons who are following in his footsteps
Their stories were fascinating and encouraged people to connect on different levels. They built bridges in each other’s hearts and minds that enabled everyone to communicate more effectively. Savvy leaders use stories to inspire commitment and create community.
John has also realized that sharing stories maximizes productivity and profits and results in higher employee retention.
In their book Tribal Leadership, authors David Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright spell out the effects of a strong culture:
- Fear and stress go down as the “interpersonal friction” of working together decreases
- Organizational learning becomes effortless, with the tribe actively teaching its members the latest thinking and practices
- People’s overall health improves, injury rates and sick days go down
- Most exciting is that people report feeling more alive and having more fun
What’s the culture in your company? Do you know the stories of the people who work with you?
The road is easier together,