• Andy Goram

How To Improve Employee Onboarding

A great employee onboarding experience creates a real sense of belonging, connection and exciting possibilities for the future. This is the moment your shiny, newest asset is at their most excited; enthused to properly understand how they will play their part in the future success of the company. So why, in general, are they so awful? Why do you sit them in a room, and instantly feed them compliance manuals and employee handbooks, instead of telling them stories of the business, the people in it, what it's seeking to do, what it feels like to work there and paint a picture of how your newest member will contribute to that legacy? That's processing someone, not engaging them. That's not finding a real connection between their hopes and dreams and that of the company, that will mean that they feel part of it, stay loyal to it and deliver great things for it. There has to be a better way.


My guest on Episode 29 of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, is Jerome Deroy from Narativ, a company that helps businesses engage their people through better storytelling. In this episode he takes us back to the AIDS crisis of 1994 and genesis of Narativ and how that inspired the work they do today. He shares the insights and process of what good storytelling looks like and the impact that has on individuals and businesses, and how it can improve your employee onboarding experience.


Below is a full transcript of our conversation, but you can also listen to the full episode here.


Jerome Deroy (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss how storytelling creates a better employee onboarding process

00:00:00 Andy Goram

Hello, and welcome to sticky from the inside. The Employee Engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier competition, smashing consistently successful organisations from the inside out. I'm your host Andy Goram and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn their lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them and create tons more success for everyone.

This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it.

So, if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.

00:01:10 Andy Goram

OK, then, one of the most exciting times as an employee, is turning up for work on that first day. You've researched the company you've got through the interview. You've passed the psychometric tests. You were bright and sparkly in that final interview, you negotiated your salary fairly and you turn up on day one just about as excited as anybody could possibly be. Today is the start of your induction, or as it's often called today, your “onboarding”, which I think is a far more friendly, welcoming, collegiate way of putting it and you hope to find out more about the things that were mentioned in the whole process. Find out more about the company, the people you’ll be working with. Finding and making connections between the two. And getting clearer about the part you'll play is its newest, shiniest asset in the ongoing success of that business.


But far from exceeding your engagement expectations, you find yourself left in a room on your own, with a copy of an employee handbook to read and sign, and a compliance and security presentation to sit through before being given your kit and a seat and maybe, if you're lucky, an introduction to your team. And that experience isn't as unlikely as you may think, especially in this new world of remote and hybrid working. There's a frightening stat that says, after all that effort you've gone through to find your new employee,

28% of them will quit within the first 90 days of starting that job, citing that they had a poor onboarding experience.

And only 12% of employees would say that their company has what they would consider as a strong onboarding programme.

Now my guest today knows there's a better way to do this. I'm joined by Jerome Deroy from Narativ, where he helps companies leverage the power of storytelling by teaching them how to craft and tell stories that resonate through a repeatable and scalable method. He's going to share with us why he believes that personal storytelling can improve the onboarding experience exponentially, and that these stories really matter and explain just how they can help improve retention and ultimately performance.


Welcome to the show, Jerome!


00:03:25 Jerome Deroy

Thank you so much I'm really happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

00:03:28 Andy Goram

Hey, it's wonderful to have you here. I love the whole storytelling narrative. Can you just give us a little insight into you and Narativ and what you're focusing on right now?

00:03:38 Jerome Deroy

Sure, yeah, absolutely so. So. Yes. First of all, love the statistics you mentioned earlier. You know that's certainly the experience, I think that maybe many people feel, but perhaps don't know if they're alone in this and those numbers really show that you know a lot of people who feel this kind of stuff are not alone. And I was one of those people and we'll get to that. But the way that Narativ started and my involvement with Narativ was not actually in this field of onboarding at all. It was really even before my time, this company was founded, or the idea for the company actually, was really created during a public health crisis, very much like the one we've been through in the last two years, except that at that time in 1994, it was the AIDS epidemic. And you know, this was before any treatments appeared on the market or anything like that.

So, people were dying and it was quite a mysterious illness. We didn't quite know what to do about it, and there was very much a barrier between, you know, the people who had the virus and the people who didn't. And it was hard to relate. And so, my business partner and the founder of Narativ at that time he was a social worker in New York City. And as part of his PhD. in social work, he was placed in a programme to help people who had a diagnosis of AIDS or who had HIV. And the way that he did that was using his training as a psychologist, first of all, from South Africa, and then as a, you know, someone who was studying social work. And so, the way you do that is one on one and you sit in front of a person and you ask them, you know, “How do you feel?” And when he asked that, most people kind of threw their hands up in the air and said,

Well what do you mean, how do I feel? How would you feel if you knew you were going to die in a week? What kind of dumb question is that?”

And so, then he went back to his supervisor and he said, “Look I, I'm not sure I'm cut out for this because my training hasn't prepared me for this. Nobody’s listening to me, they don't think I'm serious, or anything, and I don't seem to be helpful. And so, a supervisor said, “Well, why don't you just look at what's going on, you know? And maybe you'll come up with a solution from there, that's more adapted.” And so, he did. He looked around and he noticed that people were quite happy in this programme they had sort of found their community. And they all came from, you know, families, sometimes who had shunned them, society very much had kind of marginalised them, and so here they were accepted, they were not judged. And they were quite happy.

One day one of the things that happened there was that on a regular basis, Murray would hear an announcement throughout the whole building saying that someone had died that week and that they wanted to take a moment of silence. And so, they would have their moment of silence. And then the belongings of that person would be put into a large bag and then that bag would be placed in a room, so that loved ones could pick them up. And more often than not, those bags would never be picked up by anyone.


00:07:01 Andy Goram

Brutal


00:07:02 Jerome Deroy

And it would be discarded. And so that's when he noticed, you know, on the one hand, happy to have found each other, on the other hand, no-one'd here to collect your belongings. And then one person, kind of crystallised it for him. And she said to Murray,

“You know, we're not afraid of dying here. We've come to terms with that, but what we really are afraid of is leaving nothing of ourselves behind. We won't be remembered for anything.

And that's when he said, “Well, why don't you just tell me your story and I'll remember your story and I'll carry it with me.”

And so little by little, more and more people came to this group. It was done as a group so that people could experience it and that's what they would do. They would take each other’s stories into the world, essentially and, and that's what they would leave behind. And then they made videotapes of those. And then the government threatened financial cutbacks on programmes exactly like this one and all over The US, and this was in New York State. And so they hopped onto a yellow school bus and went to the state capital of New York State, Albany and they left their videotapes on the desks of policymakers and legislators, and said, “Listen to my story, watch my story and tell me I don't deserve the same care as everybody else.”

And it's on the basis of these stories that those cutbacks didn't happen. They changed their minds and actually put more money into these programmes, but also more money into finding treatments and cures. And this happened worldwide, really, it was one of the most successful social movements of our time. And it was these stories that sort of crystallised what this, who these people were, that suddenly they were humanised. They weren't just people with an illness who were different from me and you, and now it felt like they were functioning members of society that they had families, et cetera, et cetera.


And so that's really what formed the basis of the idea for this company Narativ, was that here was a way to help people kind of raise their voice and engage with their lives in a different way. Where they kind of took control of it by telling their story, not being spoken for by others. And when I got involved - 1994, I was a senior in high school in France. That's where I grew up. So, this was a very far world for me.

00:09:14 Andy Goram

OK.


00:09:18 Jerome Deroy

So, some 10 years later, I found myself in New York City after a career in Finance, working in film as a production manager. And that's how I met Murray Nossel, who's also a filmmaker, and he told me, you know, “I founded this company called Narativ,” and he told me this story, I just told you, and I was quite inspired by that. And he said, you know, “Do you think there's any way that this could catch on in the business world? Because so far, it's only been non-profit organisations and foundations, and things like that.”

And I said,” I really do, because you're talking about engagement and the way you engage those people in that programme and have been engaging other people since is what's lacking in a lot of companies? Employees don't feel engaged.” Those statistics speak to that right? And yes, we're talking about onboarding in particular, but that's throughout the whole company and about the whole culture. So many people, I think it's more than half of employees, you know, at least in the US, and I think in Europe as well, don't feel engaged. At work and as a result, they leave.


00:10:16 Andy Goram

I can build on that for you. So, Gallup's recent what's the state of the global workplace report. I think it said, 80%, like, aren't engaged. And in the UK, it's like 89%. I mean that's just awful, awful. So yeah, you're 100% right, my friend. Please carry on, carry on.

00:10:39 Jerome Deroy

Yeah, no and so that was what the lightbulb moment for me, back in 2004, 2005, when I first got introduced to Narativ, was, you know, here's you know... by teaching people a methodology to tell the stories that really kind of get to the core of who they are, what they do, what their purpose is, and learn how to actually tell that, express that in a concise, synced way it engages yourself in a very, very different way. So as a company, if you're able to say that that is your message and really live by that, and not just, you know, have the leaders tell great stories, but that everyone gets to learn how to do that, it really changes the whole culture.


And so, in more recent years, what's happened is that I sort of noticed what you were talking about at the top of the show, which is that you know, there's this fantastic opportunity when someone comes to a new company, you know, and they are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and they just want to, you know, absorb everything they can, because they're so excited to start. And what a great opportunity to try to engage someone from the outset, from day one, as opposed to as a sort of crisis management saying, “We've got to bring in some consultants now to try to get them to be motivated, etc.” But no, the time is now, when they're already motivated. And now get them to engaged a little bit differently. And so that's how the whole onboarding process, and using storytelling to help and support that onboarding process came to life.


00:12:18 Andy Goram

Well, we'll get into that, I'm sure. I mean, I think there's some really key words. Firstly, that is a... I shouldn't really use the word “fabulous” story, when it's talking about the pain and horror of the whole AIDS crisis at the time, but it's a really emotive story. And you talk about engagement, I mean that there and the power of those video stories and those stories behind their lives being told, I mean, that takes it from engagement to a proper connection, I think. So, they become like you're saying, no longer a paper statistic. This is a human being, who has a story, who has a life, who has connections, who has a real story to tell. And the power that that must have evoked... I don't know, extreme. And then when you think about what you've just talked about on onboarding, and this moment where you, like you say, you skip in bright-eyed, bushy-tailed to work and the word engage, I think, in many cases, couldn't be further from what's happening. I think very often we get into “processed”. We need to process these guys. Oh, and we’ll maybe do a bit of engagement later on, uou know. But let's process them. And for me, the first question is,

What are we trying to achieve with an onboarding process? Are we looking at process or are we looking to engage?”

00:13:37 Jerome Deroy

Yeah, it's so true. I mean, you know when I first started looking at this whole process of onboarding, what came back to me was my first experience, you know, coming out of Business School we got this great job in finance and I was really excited. I was going to Hong Kong, you know, after having finished my studies in Paris. And so, it's quite exotic. And talk about feeling really motivated. And so, I got there and I got on the 15th floor of this beautiful glass building overlooking the Hong Kong Harbour, and someone had told me beforehand, you know, here's where you need to go. And so, I start going towards this open desk, you know, office, and with lots of people around and phones ringing. It’s very exciting. And then someone kind of tapped me on the shoulder and says, “Oh hi! Welcome,” and you know, “I'm the HR manager. And no, you're not going over there so, that is your desk over there, but that's not where you're going.” And so, I said, “Oh OK, great!” you know, and I followed her. And the more we walked, the darker and darker this theme became. And the fewer and fewer windows there were. And then we finally got to this tiny space, without any windows, and there was one, you know, there were two chairs and one table. And she gave me these two big binders and she said, “Can you please sit here and go through these binders in the next 48 hours.” And one was Compliance and the other one was the Employee Handbook. And then I watched a bunch of training videos that seemed like they were made in the 80s. You know where the things were skipping.


00:15:12 Andy Goram

Nice, nice.


00:15:13 Jerome Deroy

And so talk about not being engaged from your first day. Like my enthusiasm went from about 100 to 2 in the space of three days, and all because of exactly what you just said. I mean I; I was being processed, you know, suddenly there wasn't that sense of meeting people and you know the excitement that you might have there. And it took, you know, another whole week for me to meet people who were even remotely related to my role. Because that was the other thing. I was excited, but I was also very nervous,

00:15:48 Andy Goram

Of course.


00:15:50 Jerome Deroy

Because I didn't know yet. I knew from the job description was expected of me, but I didn't know for real what was expected of me, and I got lucky because one of the people who was supposed to leave within a week of me getting there, ended up staying for more than six months after I got there and he really became my guide, because he knew the company inside out. He knew what my role was about because he'd been in my shoes at one point, and he told me stories. He told me stories about things that had happened on the job and that really helped me retain information. And that's how I knew what to do. I knew who to go to. None of that was in the job description. None of it. And of course, it wasn't because, how could you do that? I don't expect anybody to be able to put those anecdotes and stories etc, But it's that human connection and those stories that really made a difference.

And that's kind of what I remembered, you know, 20 years later, when we started these programmes and onboarding, where it was really about let's find the people who have the stories that are relevant to the people who are coming in. And rather than giving them job descriptions, let's bring those to life with those real stories of things that happen on the job, that you're very likely to encounter. And by the way, by doing that you'll give people a sense of belonging. You'll give them a sense of the culture of your organisation. You'll let them know how things work, essentially, and what is this culture that they're stepping in, and you'll make them feel like their own culture matters, right? Because, you know, what you're also doing, is once you start telling stories, people respond with stories, right? So, their own experiences get triggered. So now you're going to hear stories from your new hires as you do this, and that's going to make them feel even more included, because now they're being listened to.

00:17:35 Andy Goram

Absolutely. I mean, whenever I do talk to clients about this sort of stuff, I always implore the CEO, the MD, whatever it is to just make sure you have an open line of communication with your new starters. You know, I was always taught, and I'm sure people on the podcast are bored of me saying this, but you know, when you're a new employee, you're a proper gift to that organisation. You don't have any of the baggage that comes with it. You don't walk around Snowblind 'cause you've seen it a million times and then ignore it. Everything is fresh, everything is new. So why wouldn't you want to listen to what these guys have got to say? Why wouldn't you want to say,

Look tell me whatever. Does, our promise match up to our reality? And if it does, great! Tell me, 'cause I really want to know. But also, if it doesn't. Tell me, because I really want to know.”

And as a new employee, if you're being given that freedom, that permission to tell it like it is, how does it match up? I think that's a hugely powerful kind of first entrance into a business. Like, you really matter. You have a voice. We're going to listen. I mean, that's a good thing, right? We want more.

00:18:44 Jerome Deroy

Yeah, absolutely. I mean that word, “Empowering”, I think people use that word a lot, but I think, you know, once you, you really do feel empowered, I think it's exactly what you're saying. You know, it’s that someone feels like, “Oh, my voice matters.” You know that, and that's certainly not how I felt in that job that I was describing earlier. You know I loved my team. I loved the people I was working with, but there was no sense of does this matter, what I'm doing? Like what if I leave tomorrow, will it matter? And the irony is, that I noticed that people would leave this organisation every four to six months. 'cause I had a... I didn't have an asserted open line to my Managing Director, but his office was right across that open desk that I described earlier, so I would see these people go into his office with their kind of shoulders hunched, you know, and feeling blue. Then they'd come out with brilliant smiles on their faces and said, "I quit today.” And my boss was always saying, you know, “Well, I guess, you know, others, they just leave because other companies pay better.” And that was rarely the case. That was rarely the case. And lo and behold, later it was me doing the same thing.

And so, there was, you know, that sense of your voice matters. You know that's what is at the core for me, of engagement. And the onboarding, you know, that moment, that first week, that first month, it's such a great opportunity to learn, really, from these new hires. And if they get the sense that they're being heard and that you're learning from them, well, guess what? They're going to want to work, you know, double shifts for you. I mean, that's the kind of thing that really motivates someone.

00:20:30 Andy Goram

Yeah, I mean I think back to your Hong Kong experience. You know, for me, whether it's a film or a book title, you know, “Two binders and a Dark Room” there's something in that, right? Something in that. How quickly did it go for you from watching people go into that office and come out beaming saying, “I'm leaving!” to you, working out that this wasn't a thing for you? I mean, did you stick around for long? Or did you kind of get that same sense of, “I don't feel right here.” How long did that take?

00:20:56 Jerome Deroy

I mean, you know, it took me a while. Well, it took three years. It really... I go back to that one individual who ended up staying much longer than he really wanted. Which was kind of interesting, because he just wanted to leave. But if it wasn't for that person, I think I would have definitely left much sooner. Because he, again, he really kind of, gave me a sense of how things worked, and these observations that I was making of... it was kind of in passing, “Oh, that's interesting. People are leaving it seems fairly often here.” And I was pretty fresh and new and so I thought, “Well, that's just how the market works in Finance and Hong Kong in particular. It's very competitive, so people just kind of come and go.”

But then it, yeah, it took three years for me to realise, “No, that's not really what's going on here,” and more conversations internally, and this kind of deep dissatisfaction that many people felt and stayed anyway. Because for all the people who left, there were ten people who stayed and were not satisfied. And their productivity was definitely going down. And that's what was happening to me, you know. I just wasn't satisfied anymore and felt like I needed something new. But it took it took a little bit longer for me to get to that step and I really do give credit to that person who sort of showed me the ropes, told me those stories, and not just excited me about the job, but excited me about the whole context that I was in.

You know, Finance in the in the early 2000s in Hong Kong, after the takeover, you know, the handover to China and all of these different things that he introduced me to culturally, that were outside of work. A lot of this happened outside of work. There was a holistic approach I think, and that's what made me hesitate to leave because leaving this company meant that I would have to leave this place altogether. You know, I couldn't stay if I didn't have a Visa. So, there are a lot of mitigating factors. And I think that's true for potentially any job, really, where it's not just about the workplace, but it's the whole environment that you're creating, that makes you want to stay or not.


00:23:07 Andy Goram

Look, 100% on that, right? And I think, that first impression that you make on somebody can... it won't necessarily make or break, but it will certainly play a big tune behind how long that person gives the company a chance to sort itself out and find their way and what have you, right? I think it absolutely sets the tone. So, you can get a sense, pretty quickly, if you're in a room on your own with a manual, “Wow! There's not going to be a lot of arm round the shoulder in this place.”

00:23:36 Jerome Deroy

No, exactly exactly. I had to essentially find the people who would do that. And I think about nowadays, in this context that we're in with COVID, and this pandemic, you know, so many people have gone remote, and so many offices have gone to sort of a hybrid model or still fully remote. You know they're not even considering coming back to work. So, imagine being a new hire and you don't have the benefit that I had, which was, and I could find people within the organisation. I could actually do that. But when you're remote, how do you know who to go to? is there a directory? Do you just cold call people? Do you email? You know, who do you email? Who do you call? And I think these are the kinds of things that increasingly people are thinking about just in terms of that process, like that's part of your processing, probably. But there's also that element of how do we create these more informal, casual meetings? What I call you, know the meetings around the water cooler and those conversations outside of the work, when there is no more water cooler. And it's possible to do that. It's just that you have to be very intentional about creating unstructured, you know meetings and take out the formality from it. And it's weird, because you're actually creating your meeting, so it does have some formality, but what you're doing is that you're leaving it freeform, so that people can meet each other, talk to each other. They're from different departments, different divisions, different parts of the world. That's the opportunity that we have with being remote. Is that suddenly now the world is open to us. You know it's not just our office.


00:25:13 Andy Goram

It's a much smaller place, isn’t it? It's a much smaller place now, yeah.


00:25:15 Jerome Deroy

Exactly and many companies are not fully taking advantage of that. You know they were still kind of scrambling to adapt, or still maybe think for some that we're all going to come back, you know. And when we come back it'll be like flipping a switch.

00:25:29 Andy Goram

Yeah, I think that's kind of a dangerous mindset to have. But yeah, I, think that the lid’s off the cookie jar right now, and people like eating cookies, when they want to eat cookies. Which is a terrible analogy, but I think should to say “Everything is going to go back to normal” I can't see it. I can't see it. People have seen behind the curtain now, and they and they quite like what they see.

I'm really keen to try and understand from your perspective the tie-up between your experiences now, what Narativ does, and the whole storytelling piece with onboarding. And in the intro I kind of talk about this process that you try and help businesses do when they're telling stories. So can you help my listeners and sort of like, just cover what's that process? What's it look like?


00:26:13 Jerome Deroy

Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know it really begins with listening. And so, what we do is essentially we work with a group and we'll help the company that we're working with identify, you know, what are the stories, themes, messages, the values, you know. Sometimes even what's your mission statement? What's your vision statement? What's your value proposition? You know, anything that expresses what the company does, what it's about, what it stands for sometimes. And then we kind of ask people, you know, that leadership, what are the priorities, you know, that you really want to instil in these new hires? Is it solely about the role? Is it a kind of a mixture between the culture, what they're coming into and the role etc? And once we have all that information, we start to identify the people who have the stories that can bring these messages to life. And then we go into a workshop setting. We bring people together. Whether it's a series of workshops of a couple hours or whether it's a day, depending on, you know, how people want to do this.


And it starts with really understanding... giving people a sense of who are you as a listener first of all. So, before we even talk about storytelling, is how are we listening right now? Because the way that you listen to somebody else, or to yourself, is really going to shape what kind of story you're going to tell, how you're going to tell it. And many, many times we have things that get in the way of our ability to listen. The obstacles, really. And if you're not aware of what those obstacles are you could easily shut yourself down to the possibility of a new story emerging. Or even any story emerging? And a lot of times we kind of have to get through this hurdle of, “What do you mean? I don't think I have a story”, or, you know, “Sure. OK. Are these new hires really going to be interested in my story? Like why would it be mine and not the CEO's story?” But that kind of thing.


And so that all comes from listening. And these obstacles that get in the way. That are a lot of times psychological, you know, judgments, things like that, but there are other obstacles too. And so, we look at that and we give people that awareness, and then and only then, we start to look at what are the stories that are emerging in this kind of listening environment that are linked to these values and themes and messages that we've identified before. And the cardinal rule that we ask people to follow, and we're quite strict about this, is to tell a story according to what happened.

That a story should always be the answer to the question, “What happened?”

Yeah, that sounds pretty obvious, right? Of course, you have to tell what happened. But what happens most of the time is that people are eager to tell you what they thought about what happened to them, what they felt about what happened to them, what their opinions were about what happened to them, what their interpretations were about with conclusions... morals, all that stuff. And we always say, “I'm sorry. I don't care about that! What I really care about is what happened, you know. Give me the details of that experience.


So, it's the difference between saying, you know “I was really bored with my job. I was not feeling any passion about it, and I felt like I needed to do something else. That there was something else out there for me.” OK, what happened? It's the difference between that and saying, “It was a Monday morning, after a 3-hour Monday morning meeting, that we always had on Mondays, and I was sitting at my desk and I typed in three words in my search engine. And those words were business, film and New York. And then I walked up to my Boss’s office, sat at his desk and said, Lawrence, I quit. And there we go. And then you know, six months later I'm in New York City. And this is my story.” This is what happened to me. So, I could tell it to you, exactly like that, as it happened and so that you feel the emotion of that. You feel the excitement of it. You know, you feel the mystery of it.


00:30:20 Andy Goram

You feel in it. You feel in it, right? Absolutely, absolutely.


00:30:23 Jerome Deroy

Yes. Exactly, exactly. And once people really get that, on how to tell that story, then they start to get excited about their own journey. That's when they get start to get excited about telling the story. Because they get excited about these details that they found. They get witnessed by others when they're telling their stories and so the others are getting excited. They see the difference. I often do this exercise where we'll show that. You know, because people will get into their heads, and they'll talk about their thought process. And then once you find a little detail, you know, it happened the other day. I was working with a client and they were saying, you know, this is really about self-reflection and my ability to discover. And I was on a quest, and I didn't know which path to take. I said, “Well, what was the first thing that, you know, how would you describe that feeling you were feeling of kind of boredom and repetitiveness in the job?” He said, “Well, I would always, you know, repeat the same click on my on my browser. It was always the same word and I clicked it about 1000 times a day.” And then whole room went like,

Oh! Well! That's it! That's the story we’re interested in! We don't care about the paths and this self-reflection and the discovery process. We want to know about that. Like, what was the word?”

So, that's... so we get people excited about that.


And then they, actually have tangible stories. And then we use those stories and we either record them or people tell them live, depending on, you know, what’s appropriate to the people who need to hear them. So those new hires now, they're going to see Joe from Accounting, you know, telling the story of the first time they met their first client, you know, and how that went. And you know, all the glorious details of that, as opposed to the usual shortcuts that we take, you know, “Well we met the client and they had this problem, and then it went really well, I gave them a solution and that was it.” You know, “No!” there are other things that happened in the middle that were really interesting and helpful. It's not just about entertainment. It's helpful to the person who's hearing it for the first time.


00:32:22 Andy Goram

They are the relatable pieces, aren't they? They're the things that you can then put yourself in that story, or in that predicament, or in that environment, and start to make sense of, “Oh well. How's that going to feel for me? What... how would I react? What would I do?” Or, “OK, that's what's expected.” Those stories create a better sense of understanding clearly.

00:32:42 Jerome Deroy

Yes, and that piece that we're talking about, that reflection, is really important because we are looking for connection. And so, you know this is not about sort of telling the story, dropping the mic and leaving the stage. It's very much about staying in the room. Or, you know, on zoom, whatever it might be, and hear what your audience has to say, as they reflect on what they got from it. Especially what they got from it. “What are you going to do with this information? What story does this trigger for you? You know, now you tell me a story, so I can get information.” And it so starts this two-way street, which is really much more of a conversation in dialogue.


00:33:21 Andy Goram

So, when we think about that whole storytelling process and we think about the really poor onboarding process that people are having all over the world at the moment, what do you think we need more of going forward, Jerome?

00:33:37 Jerome Deroy

Well, I think, you know we need more leaders who really understand the value of putting oneself in the shoes of others, right? Because I think right now, there's so much focus on talent, finding talent, or the lack of talent. All these things. You know, “The Great Resignation”, all these different things that have been in the air, and you know we're wondering how long is it going to last? But really, what it requires is for people to listen first of all, to what's going on, and then to understand that, you know, what does a new hire need? What is it that they really need at this moment? What are the things that that are going to make a difference for that person in terms of that sense of belonging and that sense of motivation?


And so, I think that's what we need more of. People who are willing to put themselves in the shoes of others, rather than being prescriptive about it and really kind of listening and understanding, this is my company. This is my culture. This is how it's been shaped. Let's look at that story first. What's the story that we need to tell about ourselves to attract the talent that we really need, that we're really looking for here? And not just on a kind of basic, job description level.


00:34:51 Andy Goram

I think that's so true. I mean, the whole point for me about engagement is finding connections between individuals and businesses. And, when those connections kind of are really strong and match up, I think wonderful things happen. And it's the same thing with the people internally, and just how you described. You know we're sitting here, we've had a conversation about how to use storytelling and personal stories for new hires to make them feel welcome, belong, valued, all those great things, but it's just as powerful for your employer brand in doing a recruitment job for you.


And when you think about the thing about retention at the front, if even at entry level, I think it costs something like 50% of the salary to re-recruit someone once they've gone. That’s just an entry level person. If you're thinking about higher up and Exec level, it could get to something like 200% of the costs. Whereas what we're talking about is investment upfront. Bringing people in. I'm a brand guy right? I love a brand story. I want the connection, you know. The first time I was asked to get involved in an onboarding programme. and there was no piece about the brand story. There was no piece about how you fit into that role. What are you going to do to kind of keep the brand story going. I was horrified. Horrified, right? But now I speak to guys like you, and more and more people are kind of, I think, starting to get this thing. That there's, there's a great thing to happen.

And storytelling, I think, I think it's one of those things that just...I know... it just goes on and on and on. It's like concentric circles, right? You tell a story, someone else... you said before there's an exchange that goes on with storytelling. And the more you encourage it, the more willing people are to tell stories. And the more stories there are, the more fabulous things there are that you’ll remember about a business, an experience, a customer, or a person, whatever it might be, and that just makes the whole thing far more colourful, I think.


00:36:41 Jerome Deroy

Yes, absolutely yeah. And I think really, it's so important to keep, you know, for leaders to keep searching for stories and storytellers within their company. You know, don't go to the to the usual suspects who are the great charismatic ones and orators and presenters, you know, the salespeople, whatever you have, you know. But rather really, start to look at what are those messages that you're putting out, and who are the people that could tell them? Because that's what's going to make you more authentic. And then it's going to be much more genuine to who the company is, and to who you want to attract. And you know I've got clients, who now as part of this, use these videos that we created for their website for their recruitment purposes. You know that's become the stories of their brand of their culture. And so, I think once you start to really dig into this, and it doesn't take much to do so, you start to, you know... these stories start to emerge and people start to emerge. And so, engage those people, rather than trying to tell the story yourself all the time.


00:37:45 Andy Goram

That's a fantastic way to summarise that. And talking of summaries, I cannot believe, I mean, this is testament to your own storytelling, I can't believe the time has flown away like it has. And we're now at the point, right, that I call “Sticky Notes”, Jerome, where I try and harness all of your wisdom on three post-it notes. So, if you were to try and give someone some advice today about how to improve their onboarding experience through storytelling what would your three sticky notes be, my friend.

00:38:13 Jerome Deroy

Umm, well, the first is I would really look at your values. You know, what is it that this company is about? What's the purpose of it? You can go to your mission statement. You can go to your vision statement, whatever it is. But really, look at that and start to identify those and boil them down to two or three kinds of emotive words, right? Those that really elicit an emotion, you know. Like what if you're all about safety? What if you're all about, you know, making things more certain for people. Or convenience, or speed. Those are the things. And so I would start with that, because that's going to give you a springboard into the kinds of stories that you need to look for. And so often, people don't know where to begin, and so I think beginning with that and then yeah, maybe the second sticky note is remember that this is all about people. And look for the people that you already have. 'Cause I think with onboarding, we sort of think about, “OK. Well, you know that's what we're recruiting for. We're getting all these new people.” But there are people right now in your organisation, who live and breathe your culture. Who live and breathe those values, those themes, those two or three words that you've now gotten from that first Sticky Note, right? So, who are the people who can really tell their stories and just listen. Listen to them. Create like a 30-minute meeting and just ask them questions about what they do and how they do it and who they see as part of their job, and who made a difference in their lives. All these kinds of things that are really going to bring to life your messages.

And I think the third thing is to really embrace the process and have fun with it, in terms of you know, now you've got these great stories, you've got these great people who can tell stories, and so now let's deploy these or disseminate these in a way that's really going to going to help your company as a whole, not just the onboarding process. But I think that's where I would start, you know, because I think too often people think that, well, I'm going to have to change my whole process. It's all crap. Nobody likes it, you know, but no, it's not true. There's some good parts to it, and it's just about adding, you know, sprinkling these stories around, and so that's going to just bring the whole thing to life. You still have to do compliance. You still have to do employee handbooks. But those stories they're really going to help that engagement.

00:40:36 Andy Goram

I think that's so true and it is not all about ripping it up and starting again. Very rarely is it about throwing everything out. There's always something in there that's worth kind of polishing up and taking forward and taking to the masses.

So, Jerome. Oh my goodness! It was wonderful to speak to you. I don't think I've ever had 40 minutes kind of go so quick as that. And I know you're incredibly busy.

Thank you so much for your time today. It's been really, really great talking to you, and you've left us with some fantastic food for thought. Thank you so much.

00:41:05 Jerome Deroy

Oh, you're so welcome. Thank you. I really enjoyed this conversation. Thanks so much.

00:41:09 Andy Goram

You're very welcome my friend.

OK, that was Jerome Deroy from Narativ. If you'd like to find out a bit more about him or anything we've talked about, please check out the show notes.

00:41:22 Andy Goram

That concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something, maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forwards.

If you have, please like comment and subscribe, it really helps.


I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the Sticky From The Inside podcast. until next time, thanks for listening.

Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.


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