In 2013, the New York Times highlighted a research study that measured the success of children and adult students who knew what they called, their family narrative, versus children and adult students who knew little to nothing about their family.
The family narrative refers to many of the “Do you know…?” questions about a family. Do you know where grandma grew up? Do you know what grandpa did to support the family during the depression? All of these types of questions build a narrative for a family member and creates an “intergenerational self,” helping an individual feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves.
This same principle is applicable within a company organization. Do you know how the company originated? Do you know what the first few years were like and what sacrifices the team made to grow it into what it is today? Do you know where the company wants to go in the future? These types of questions will build a unifying narrative for a team that will help them realize they are part of something larger than themselves.
In the study referenced by New York Times, the researchers found that those individuals who knew their family narrative were the most self-confident and successful. They naturally had a more positive outlook and performed better under stress than those who did not know about their families. Likewise, team members who know more about their company narrative will be higher producers than those who know little to nothing about the company!
What should your company narrative look like? Three different narratives have been identified, see which one your narrative matches now and maybe what you want it to look like for the future.
The first is called the “ascending family narrative.” This is the rags to riches story that highlights the strength and success of previous generations and how the next generation will take everything to the next level, creating the expectation of high-performance while at the same time building what can become a debilitating fear of failure.
The second is the “descending narrative.” This is the “woe is me,” riches to rags story. Clearly not ideal for any positive forward thinking culture.
The third is considered the best and is called the “oscillating family narrative.” This is the reality story of how there are ups and downs in life but we get through it regardless. It fosters confidence that you have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and that you can get through anything as a team.
What kind of company narrative do you have right now? For help and more tips on building your company narrative and culture, please call or email McFarlin Stanford.
Recruiter, Consultant & Speaker