Main menu


How to use storytelling to build startup culture

Image: Shutterstock


Many people aspire to start a company. Perhaps many will become entrepreneurs. Some of the people who started out might make solid products. Some of the people who come up with great products will have garnered high-profile clients, powerful investors, and critically acclaimed industry recognition. Some with such qualifications become unicorns and soon become unicorns. He has over 100 unicorns (startups with a valuation over his $1 billion) and dozens of sneak corns (startups that will become unicorns in the near future) in India, which makes us all proud.

In my interactions with many entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, they are proud of their success in building and backing great startups, but worry whether good startups will become long-term institutions. Every time I tried to understand their worries, I got the standard answer: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” Peter Drucker’s famous quote.

I was intrigued by the repeated mention of this statement, so I decided to understand the issue in detail. For smaller startups, I found that founders initially made the initial hires and shared their purpose, vision, and values ​​directly with the team. The entire team mostly works in the same office and is in daily contact. As your startup grows, things start to change. Founders are swamped with many new responsibilities and slowly hand off the job of hiring to someone else. As the workforce grows, layers are built between the founder and her new team members. As the office expands, the day-to-day interactions between management and her new team members decrease.

Another big issue is wear and tear. As the number of unicorns and sun unicorns increases, employment opportunities for excellent human resources will increase. Leaving talent not only robs you of valuable technology and business knowledge, it also robs you of your understanding of the culture, values, and ways of working within your organization. At most startups, values ​​are written on the office walls and founders talk about purpose at town halls. However, new hires may be irrelevant or forget these messages. Unfortunately, when superior culture is not formally defined, inferior culture is haphazardly formed. A toxic corporate culture is one of the main reasons behind the decline.

There are several steps fast-growing startups can take to mitigate the cultural crisis.

make a culture book

Messages such as purpose, values ​​and mission guide employees as to what is right and wrong in the context of the organization. People have different ways of understanding and interpreting things because of their different educational backgrounds, experiences, and possessions. Therefore, each person reading these messages may be able to draw a different understanding. A Gallup study found that just a 10% improvement in connecting employees to an organization’s mission or purpose reduces turnover by 8.1% and increases profitability by 4.4%. Therefore, the principles that govern employees’ day-to-day decisions and actions should be well documented in a culture book that can be referenced by both new and old employees. A culture book should also contain stories to clarify the context of various statements, their significance and what they actually mean.

Share relevant role model stories

One of the key challenges for founders is to reiterate their values ​​and purpose in a way that doesn’t sound boring to employees. One of his approaches is to shine the spotlight on his champions of culture. This is an employee who demonstrates organizational value while making an impact, delivering extraordinary results, and navigating change. Culture Champion stories help listeners visualize real-life events and understand how organizational principles produce superior results. In some cases, talking to a friendly role model can even motivate another employee to turn a seemingly dire situation into an unexpected victory.

Treat every employee as a storyteller

All employees are storytellers in one way or another, even though their positions and roles are different. In the cafeteria, many employees may gossip about grueling work schedules, demanding founders and their behavior, favoritism toward colleagues, and why proposed changes don’t work. Such negative talk leads to cultural erosion. If founders want to preserve culture, they have to identify and change the stories people tell each other. Startup leaders need to tell their founding story. Product Her Market He must reveal how the founding team worked hard to make a fit, win customers, convince investors, and contribute to society. Stories stick in your mind and are easy to retell. Inspirational stories like this provide positive content for employees and can be shared internally and externally. Imagine an office boy sharing such stories with her boy in another office, a new software hire her engineer sharing such stories with her family, and a manager sharing such stories with her neighbors. please try. All of a sudden, there are a lot of brands with his ambassadors and free publicity for the organization.

Setting the context for HR communications

HR is responsible for aligning people with organizational strategy and driving change. Often, people have difficulty interpreting strategies and resist change due to the lack of contextual setting in HR communications. This information asymmetry between management and employees can dilute the expected impact. Storytelling is a powerful tool for setting context and inviting action. Interestingly, employees at all levels understand the story. By sharing announcements and reports in short stories to establish context and clarify, HR can help keep messages relevant and memorable.

Publish stories of corporate philanthropy

Many talented people today base their participation decisions on how an organization treats its environment and supports its community. By showcasing the stories of corporate social responsibility and the stories of employees making social impact through various organizational initiatives, startups can inspire employees to make their employers proud, build trust with society, and make money. It can help you stand out from companies that focus solely on

An organization’s growth depends on its ability to recruit and retain top talent. Marvin Bower, the founder of modern McKinsey, famously said, “A business with high principles attracts the best talent more easily, thereby gaining a fundamental competitive and profit advantage.” I leave So to attract great talent, startups need to create a great culture and market it well through their stories.

I am the author of “Booming Brands” and co-author of “Booming Digital Stars”. The opinions expressed are personal and do not necessarily represent the views of the company.

Thoughts and opinions shared here are those of the author.

Check out end-of-season subscription discounts with our completely free Moneycontrol Pro subscription. Use code EOSO2021. Click here for more information.