AB Thinks  →  1st March 2023

What’s the untold story of your organisation?

Stories unite us. They weave the rich tapestry of the world around us and, at work, they can empower us to succeed.

Sam Bleazard is storytelling’s biggest advocate. The most recent guest on The Internal Comms Podcast, Sam is Employer Brand Content Producer at ‘the world’s most famous corner shop’, Fortnum & Mason, where he tells the stories of the unsung heroes keeping the King’s grocer running like clockwork.

“Everyone remembers their first encounter with us,” claims the Fortnum’s website and it’s true – it is hard to forget the grandeur of 181 Piccadilly in the heart of London’s West End. Behind its lavish interiors, incredible food halls and exquisite restaurants and tea rooms, Fortnums is run by a diverse group of colleagues, from cooks to retail assistants, and all have stories to tell.

Here’s why they’re worth listening to…

We’re all led by emotion
In the current global climate, human-centric storytelling is a comfort blanket for colleagues facing the near-constant bad news cycle and pressure in their personal lives.

As Sam told Katie Macaulay, storytelling is about survival. “It’s connected fundamentally to who we are and how we’re programmed to understand communication, information and life lessons,” Sam said. “But it’s also just a much-needed thing right now. Because otherwise, I think we’re just going to be completely fried and exhausted.”

You’re running more than just a business
Your business has its own stories and quirks. (Fortnums sells honey made by bees that live in the hives on the roof.) But it’s the way people experience those quirks and add to that story that makes a business come to life and evolve into a community where colleagues are ambassadors, not just bodies on the shop floor.

“It’s more fun if there’s a collective effort and you get lots of different perspectives of what it feels like to experience it from the inside,” Sam said.

Storytelling builds pride
Maybe we don’t admit it, but talking about ourselves – and listening to others tell their story – is enjoyable. Often, your colleagues won’t realise the true value of their contribution to your business, which can even lead to them feeling disengaged.

“I genuinely think a lot of people don’t think what they do as a profession is interesting,” Sam suggested. “They just think the interest value is really low. And why would you tell anyone about it?

“When they meet someone who’s genuinely interested in talking to them and who is telling them that what they do is fascinating, they sort of start to see themselves and their experience through fresher eyes.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg on a truly insightful conversation. Listen to the full episode today.