Culture change and engagement
Following the merger of two major financial services companies, the new board had the task of devising core values for the newly created organisation. These values were centred round “trust”, “truth” and “teamwork”. Poster campaigns, the company newsletter and company away days were used to promote this message. After three months there appeared to be major communication problems between employees of the two former companies and the core values were becoming the butt of many in-house jokes. At this point, we were asked to provide storytelling solutions to the lack of corporate identity with the core values and to address the communications issues in a creative way.
Working with six groups of twelve staff drawn from all levels of the company (director to post room), we first drew out stories connected with trust, truth and teamwork. We facilitated story circles whereby people told recent stories of where these qualities were present and, more importantly, where they were absent. Each person wrote up their story (anonymously) which was included in a book of stories on that theme. These stories were then retold to senior management in the first person. The stories concerning when these qualities were absent proved the most fertile ground for change.
Eventually these stories became part of the induction programme for new employees in order to demonstrate how the core values should be demonstrated. They became the focal point of several large company gatherings where they were used to generate conversation and engagement in what trust, truth and teamwork really meant in a practical way. They appeared in the company accounts and other documentation. But most usefully and effectively, they were told at the photocopier, in the canteen, the toilets and at smoke breaks – they passed into company lore.