- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Communication’
Within organizations the one thing you can count on is change. Change is inevitable.
It comes often and is often painful. In the branding world, change is an indicator of brand flexibility: brands that go with change, evolve and survive to thrive. Brands that don’t bend with the wind, die out.
What kind of changes are we talking about? Such changes include a) reorganizational changes of any kind, like changes in management, buy-outs, downsizing due to economic factors or due to innovation b) technological changes leading to obsolescence c) pure economy dictated changes.
What do all these changes involve? Employees. Your best advantage and greatest asset- your talent pool.
Here’s the problem: The 2013 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report found that only 13% of employees are engaged at work. Engagement equals productivity.
So what are the hurdles to employee engagement and productivity due to change? Here’s what I’ve found happens when there is any internal change- and there will always be internal change:
- There is a fundamental shift in brand values due to change in management- often this is accompanied by mass confusion, often subconscious, among the employee pool. Why? Read on.
- There is no focus on the notion of building the “internal” brand first- since the brand of the employees/agents is behind the company brand and comes first, it pays to develop the employee brand first- this involves direct communication to the employees and inclusion of the employees in the brand value process. Leadership must engage employees in the exercise of discovering their values that coincide with the shift in brand values of the new management.
- There is a strong possibility that employees/agents go rogue and drift away from the corporate brand representation.
So what is management supposed to do about this? The first step is that “management” needs to stop thinking like “management” and start thinking like “leadership”. This means first and foremost having conscious awareness that a shift has occurred. This shift may not be well understood or accepted by your employees.
Next, leadership needs to take steps to make sure the brand values shift is a) communicated well and b) open to revision by employees c) based on the ability to have the employees develop their own brand values and contribute to the new direction of the company’s brand. This is where I come in to assist the leadership team.
What happens if management does not become leadership and apply these steps? From my experience, the best that can happen is employees leave the company. The worst that can happen is that employees stay, become disgruntled which in turn leads to apathy, lack of productivity, and low morale. All of this inevitably leads to a decline in profits.
So what does this mean for you?
If your organization is going through change, make sure you consider your employee brand values. They must be in sync with your organizational shifts and the brand value changes they bring. These changes must be communicated to your employees and your employees given the ability to participate in creating the evolved organizational brand culture.
Picture it: you walk into a huge room of people you don’t know. Everyone is in a blue or black suit. Everyone seems to know each other, except for you. You muster up the nerve to walk up to someone. “So it’s really cold outside today”, you say, in an attempt to strike up a conversation.
Sound familiar? Most people just don’t like the idea of networking. They equate it to dragging yourself to an event, going into a room full of people you don’t know and having to figure out how to get business from them.
Just about the only thing worse for people than all the above actions, is the dreaded conversation that comes with networking. I was talking to a client the other day and she called this casual small-talk, “worthless”. I was really surprised to hear her call it worthless, especially given she is CEO of a nonprofit that does so much good in communities. She’s all about helping people. So I knew it had nothing to do for her with being kind to people or not.
So I stopped to think, is it really worthless, this small-talk we have with people in networking events? If so, why? If not, then how can we re-classify it for ourselves so we can enjoy the process more.
For my client, the thought of worthless talk is so negative, she does not even show up at the networking events. That makes me really sad for her, knowing that she may be missing out on a golden opportunity and that others may be missing out on her.
I appreciate that we all act and react differently in these types of settings. It’s often been said how we act has to do with our nature. As Susan Cain masterfully writes in her book, “Quiet”, extroverts get energy from being in a room full of others.
I am your typical extrovert and I find myself in the minority regularly. I am the oddball that really enjoys walking into a room full of strangers. I love trying to get to know new people and learn about them and teach them, if I can. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of moments when I, as the extrovert who loves getting to know strangers, don’t want to be around groups of people. I would rather be home alone snuggling on my couch with my dog. So I can imagine how bad it is for introverts.
Cain finds that introverts feel like all their energy is being drained from them when they are in a room full of others- especially people they don’t know. No wonder introverts (and most people I know) don’t want to be networking. Who wants their energy drained?!
However, getting out there and meeting people is not really optional. We need to do it if we run a business, are responsible for bringing in business AND if we are trying to find a friend and/or spouse.
What if we stopped and looked at small-talk as a different level of communication with people where our goal is to engage them at a basic level, impart basic knowledge and receive the same back? It doesn’t mean we are not being genuine if we talk about the weather, for instance. It just means we are beginning our communication with people at a more basic level, which can include dialogue about basic things, like the weather, traffic, what you had for lunch and the color of your jacket.
So next time you are out networking, make the conversation concept easy for yourself. Try thinking about your conversations as if there are levels. You have to start with the small-talk first in order to see if there is any possibility for deeper conversation afterwards.
I’m a huge tennis fan. I used to play. When I stopped playing, together my father and I watched Wimbledon, the French Open and the US Open.
Djokovic beat out Federer in a fantastic match yesterday to win Wimbledon. Both were fantastic athletes and both handled the win and loss very well on camera. The on-camera interviews went really well- right in the middle of Center Court.
While Djokovic is very likable and spoke eloquently and with emotion when interviewed, I do wonder if Djokovic could have spoken a bit more smartly. I’m a big advocate of being genuine and speaking from the heart. Djokovic at some point in the interview said something to the point that Wimbledon is his favorite tournament and that he loves it there best. It was certainly genuine and sincere. However, I winced. The first and only thought I had was what about the other tournaments- US Open, French Open, etc!? Is he not planning on ever playing anywhere else in the four Grand Slams?
In order to keep the “love” flowing to the fact that he is a man all about tennis and to develop the brand that does not alienate other tournaments and fans, Djokovic could have worded his feelings and statement a bit differently and still been genuine. Perhaps he could have kept his comments to something like, “winning Wimbledon means so much to me” or “I love being at Wimbledon”. Same effect, just as genuine, less alienating of the other Grand Slams and fans.
Just some thoughts on brand development of a great athlete. Not the end of the world or the brand and certainly doesn’t take anything away from the beauty of the match. My point is to make sure the fans recognize the athlete’s contribution and love of the sport in general, not just one venue. That’s what keeps a great brand (and endorsement deals?) thriving.
In life, we remember things, places and people better if we have a good story to which we can relate. Stories help us put things, places and people in perspective. Otherwise, everyone and everything tend to blur together. That’s why we, at Puris Image, like personal brands being expressed as stories. Well expressed stories truly do stick.
In our personal branding work with clients, we teach clients how to take their uniqueness (USP)- yes, everyone is unique in their own special way- and express this uniqueness by way of the story of the client’s life. We put no rules or parameters around how this story has to be crafted. We like soundbites, full-length versions starting from when you were born, and everything in between.
Our rules come into play with respect to: 1) the details of your story and 2) how you deliver it to your relevant audience.
Details: Your story has got to have enough details so that it can touch and reach a wide audience base. We can’t control the background and baggage of our audience, so we need to be detailed about our own story so it can appeal to a larger population.
Delivery: You’ve got to understand that you can’t just dump your entire story onto everyone you meet. Your story won’t go over well if you do so. The whole point is to be genuine as a personal brand. Being genuine means you understand your story, feel it and deliver bits and pieces that are relevant to your audience. This means you have to first listen to who your audience is and thus, to what portions of your story they will connect. Only then can you feed them your story.
So next time you are asked about yourself, remember that:
*your story is unique,
*your story matters,
*Your story must be have the two “D”s: be detailed enough and delivered appropriately, and
Email us your story if you are not sure how to develop it well!
Many people think of communicating as talking. However, there is so much more to effective communication using your personal brand.
In order to communicate effectively with clients, colleagues and staff we need to remember some basics. When in doubt, always stop and think back to the basics: your body language, intonation and word selection are crucial to your success as a business owner, executive or professional lawyer/doctor.
First, watch your body language in meetings and events. We never put enough importance on body language, yet roughly 90% of what you communicate to people is done through your body language, via non-verbal communication. So by the time you’ve got all the “perfect” words and sentences, you’ve already made your point- non verbally. The key is to watch your body language and communicate with intention. Are your arms crossed too much? Open up your arms and show people you are open to receiving their communication. Are your hands balled up in fists? Open up your palms to release tension and be open to receiving communication and gesturing. Are you leaning in to the other party, showing that you are listening and actively engaged, or are you sitting back?
Second, watch your intonation. Remember, intonation comes across in all media including emails and telephone conversations. I personally have a love-hate relationship with BlackBerrys for this very reason. Emails sent in a hurry can be not so well thought out and hurtful to your client relationship. When we text and email in a hurry, we leave off valuable punctuation and salutations that can make or break deals and relationships.
Last, watch your word selection. As lawyers and professionals we are taught to word-smith in law school. However, we are never really taught to monitor what comes out of our mouths and account for the impact our words can have on our clients, colleagues and support staff. Our words combined with our body language and intonation are powerful. Have intention behind your actions so that your personal brand is well reflected.