The Corporate Storyteller

Expert tips on management communications and the power of storytelling

Friday, July 29, 2011


How to Train Workers on the Move

Mashable reports that the workforce is increasingly mobile, with telecommuters and other remotely-based employees expected to comprise nearly 75 percent of the American workforce by 2013. According to market research firm IDC, nearly 35 percent of the global workforce will be working at remote locations in two years.

Mashable offers five tips for training those mobile employees:
1) Hire not only for relevant job skills but also for a demonstrated ability to collaborate and contribute when working at a distance from colleagues and managers.
2) Provide remote workers with all the necessary tools, e.g. e-mail, Internet access, phone, private networks, shared docs, wikis and logins to SaaS applications.
3) Require new remote teams to spend their first days or weeks at headquarters, using the initial visit convey company culture, set expectations, and build personal relationships and communication.
4) Schedule frequent check-ins to see if remote workers have questions and comments.
5) Center training and learning processes and programs on remote workers' routines and schedules, allowing them to review new materials on their own and at their own pace.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Learning Fosters Psychological Health & Retention

According to an article in Chief Learning Officer magazine, organizations that offer opportunities for growth and development not only enable employees to acquire knowledge, skills and abilities to apply in the workplace, but also can increase motivation, job satisfaction and the ability to manage stress. The artile reports on findings from an American Psychological Association (APA) study that found workplace training "improves organizational effectiveness [and] work quality, and the organization also can be positioned as an employer of choice" with very low turnover.  

David Ballard, head of APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, says providing work-based learning "can attract and retain the best employees and that's what it takes to have a competitive advantage today." The findings are based on a survey of companies that researched employee involvement, health and safety, work-life balance, employee recognition and employee growth and develop. Among the eight recipients of APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards (PHWA), only six percent of employees organizations were looking for employment outside their companies. Among all the organizations studied, more than five times as many employees were looking for work elsewhere.

Here's what Ballad says it takes to provide a healthy work environment: 1) assessing what employees need and want, 2) tailoring practices to meet those needs, 3) tying compensation to company goals, and 4) evaluating results and feedback from employees to improve learning.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


SAS' Story on Being the Best to Work For

How does SAS sustain a culture of satisfaction, wellness and creativity that results in a turnover rate under three percent? According to one former SAS staffer, the employee benefits include private offices, an on-site childcare center, a healthcare center, and a fitness center. That's only part of the reason the company was named as Fortune's Best Company to Work For earlier this year.

Add unlimited sick and family sick days as well as flexible scheduling and you've got a package that results in long-term employees whose productivity contributes to the company's success. Although there will be some people who take advantage of the impressive benefits, the majority of employees reciprocate the trust the company places in them.

What about your company? Have you examined your business model and employee benefit offerings lately? How can you make adjustments that inspire creativity and keep employees healthy and happy?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


What Story Are You Telling to Retain Talent?

Around 40 percent of the technology and engineering workers polled by believe they can increase their pay levels this year by changing employers. Even though tech workers are still in high demand, wages have remained stagnant in the sluggish economy. As a result, they're "looking for more," says Tom Silver, a senior vice president at, a career website for technology and engineering professionals. He predicts that turnover will increase before year end.

Because many businesses are focused on maintaining a healthy bottom line in the challenging marketplace, they may be overlooking the potentially significant costs of higher turnover. Leaders who look ahead are already strategizing about how they can retain their best tech and engineering professionals.

How about your company? What are you doing to ensure that you hang onto the people who are most valuable? What story are you telling to remind them why they're better off to stay put?

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Values Define the Culture, Tell the Story

Ranked for several years as one of Fortune's "Top 100 Companies to Work For" globally, NETAPP is a company that understands the importance of creating a corporate culture. As reported recently in Business Times Singapore recently, the company says its culture centers on a positive work environment with opportunities for growth for everyone who works there, including the leadership.

The five values that differentiate NETAPP from other organizations are:

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Change the Stories, Change the Culture

If an organization wants to change its culture, Peter Bregman says in his blog post for Harvard Business Review, "you have to change its stories." In "A Good Way to Change a Corporate Culture," Bregman discusses several key steps, starting with facing the truths you may not like and taking steps to change the reality.

Besides changing the stories, an organization can change a culture by inviting everyone's input to craft a new values statement; I'm presuming Bregman's implying that the core values should be re-examinied and perhaps changed. Then, the core values should be illustrated with stories that describe how the values are being enacted; this will cement them as the operational values for the organization.

A change in culture often is required when companies merge. Any major differences in the way they operate and any dissonance in core values will be stumbling blocks in successfully building a stronger company--and the differences, if not addressed, may even be fatal.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Why Culture Is Key

Why should a company focus on the culture? The fact is, the success of an organization--as well as each of the individuals in it--depends largely on whether the culture is a good fit for everyone, including the CEO. If the leader doesn't embrace the existing values or doesn't feel comfortable with the existing way of doing business, the chances for success are greatly diminshed.That explains in part why a new leader brought in from another company sometimes leaves after a very short tenure.

 And yet, a discussion about the culture isn't necessarily a standard point of discussion when an organization recruits talent. What does your company do to ensure that prospective employees understand the culture of the organization? What do your leaders do to remind people of the operating values? How often do you share stories of people "caught doing things right?"


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