Are you and your team ready
to be the heroes in your own action story? When did you and your team
experience superhero moments during COVID? What are you most proud of? What
challenged you? What made you laugh? Questions begin conversations.
Conversations become storytelling. What do you remember and what do others on
your team remember? During a meeting, ask questions such as—what did the team
overcome? How did the team respond? What is most memorable? The dynamics in the
room switch as people become the authors of the story and owners of the
narrative. As more people share, the stories gain depth as more perspectives
are added. Team members build upon the
comments of others. These stories form the foundation of a work culture and a
sense of community and belonging.What is a Story?
Mark Travis, a film director, said that “A story is the telling of an event, either true or fictional, in such a way that the listener experiences or learns something just by the fact that he heard the story.” A story is a means of transferring information, experience, attitude, or point of view.” Travis also noted that many times that “stories feed ourselves, nourish ourselves, take care of, comfort and protect ourselves ”. “They are an essential tool to keep the (storyteller’s) psyche in check.”
Stories impact everyone involved the storytelling process which is why they are powerful tools to build personal resilience, as well as promote teamwork and community.
Stories include a variety of elements. Think about how you can use these elements as building blocks for your story and how they impact storytelling.
- Characters – who is in the story?
- A setting – where does the story take
- Conflict – what is the struggle,
challenge, or conflict the characters encounter?
- Theme – What is the central idea of the
- Plot – What happens in the beginning,
middle, and end?
- Point of View – Who is telling the story?
- Tone – What is the attitude or feeling of
Consider how members of the team would use these story elements differently for the same situation or event. Magic happens when team members stories are combined creating a more robust version than any individual story.
Types of Stories
COVID impacted you and your team in many ways giving you many different types of stories to tell. Think about a story you and your team could share using each type of a story format shown below.
- The Quest – the main character(s) goes in search of
something and encounter obstacles, to capture something worthwhile.
- Voyage and return – the main character(s) embarks on a journey
where they are changed as result of the process.
- Overcoming the
monster – the hero (heroine) challenges
the monster to achieve a better tomorrow.
- Rags to riches – the main character(s) changes and shifts
to reach positive balance or positive state.
- Tragedy – the main character(s) experience a tragic event, or the main character(s)assists others overcome a
challenging or difficult time.
- Comedy – the main character(s) experience a series
of misadventures on their way to realizing the correct path or resolution.
- The types of stories
change how emotions are processed for individuals and teams. As the leader, you
can shift the type of questions you might ask to change the emotions shared.
Why are stories powerful?
Stories speak to your emotional brain more than logic alone. You remember stories better than facts alone when the elements of a story are woven together to describe situations. Stories impact both the individual storyteller and the listener in positive ways.
Stories allow the storyteller to self-reflect and process emotions. Stories can foster positive self-talk, offer a sense of pride and accomplishment, and promote learning. Stories can make the situation or event more approachable when compared to logic alone. For listeners, stories can create a shared experience, help shape the narrative of the memories and events, and also foster learning. Stories build resilience, provide a chance for healing, demonstrate accomplishments, and create a sense of belonging.
Stories weave the elements together - characters, setting, conflict, theme, plot, and point of view to make sense of the events and the impacts – physical, emotional, social as examples for those involved.
Download the story prompts provided to begin your stories for you and your team.
A special thank you to Brian Dixson, a Regional
Foodservice Manager with Geisinger Health in Pennsylvania, and Gina
Feasby, the Director of Nutritional Services for Adams Health
Network in Northeast Indiana for sharing their stories during an Association
for Healthcare Foodservice webinar this June.
What did you are your team learn about your emotions?
When Gina asked this question of her team, she was surprised by
the responses and how easily her team shared their thoughts. In the beginning of COVID, they were scared.
As COVID wore on, her team spoke of being tired and getting irritated with each
other more often. And then one employee
said, “Remember, when we got a code blue* every day. And when was the last time
we heard one?” Members of the team then started to discuss what this meant, and
Gina noted a feeling of cautious optimism among the team members. Gina noted
how others processed this comment and added their own input to the discussion
shifting the conversation in a positive direction.
*A code blue is an overhead announcement of a patient in critical status requiring lifesaving measures from a code blue team.
Brian noted how celebrating a success boosted the emotions and energy of his team. As the number of COVID cases increased and placed more stress on operations, his organization played Walking on Sunshine, by Katrina and the Waves, on the overhead paging system when a COVID patient was discharged from the hospital. This song helped the team recognize progress and positive outcomes.
What are your stories? How can you use them to support your team post COVID to build resilience, heal, and move past the events of the past year?