- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘culture’
I remember when I was a practicing securities lawyer. For the most part, I often felt like I was in the right job. I didn’t hate my work nor the people I worked with. I got paid well for what I did. Plus, my work was fairly routine and not terribly stressful.
So did that mean it was the right job for me? Not necessarily given what I do now for a living is really the right business for me.
In organizations, leadership often looks at whether an employee is in the “right” or “wrong” position. This isn’t always a full assessment of how to build a strong, profitable organization. The better inquiry is to ask whether an employee’s strengths are aligned with who they are in a particular position.
In my world of brand development and culture building in organizations, it is all about the people. The people drive revenues. If the employees are not engaged, then everything takes a hit. Sometimes management denies this fact and looks the other way. Sooner or later, if employees are not happy it impacts the organization.
In my opinion, the first thing that has to happen is that employees figure out who they really are- at work and at home. This leads to a natural understanding of their strengths. Once these strengths are deciphered, then we can look to see if the employee is in the right position.
Instead what often happens is that organizations choose to focus on an employee’s weakness. I say that’s a waste of time. Why would I focus on your employee’s weakness instead of capitalizing on their strengths? After all, their strength makes them happier at work. Happier employees are more engaged and lead to higher morale and productivity for any organization.
Oftentimes we find there is no “right” or “wrong” position for an employee, just a lack of understanding and cultivation of an employee’s true strengths and talents that would make them a great fit for their job. These strengths are not necessarily tied to their linear, analytical mind. These strengths are closely aligned with their personal story and upbringing and whether they are bringing their bad baggage to work with them everyday or not.
What does this mean for you? Whether you’re looking for yourself or your employees,, stop and consider:
- What are the strengths of an individual? What are your strengths?
- How can you capitalize on these strengths to impact engagement and cultivate a true culture that grows with ease and grace in any setting?
In the brand development world, the goal is to create a brand culture that resonates the business brand well with clients and your audience. This goal involves the most important attribute of any business- its’ employees.
To that end, I’m always working with employees to develop a sound individual brand- one that vibes with, and lends itself well to, the brand culture that will make the business succeed emotionally. There are so many factors we address with employees because there are so many contributing factors to employees “owning” their best brand and being happy at work.
One factor that doesn’t get much airtime is the actually physical office setting and structure/layout of the office. I think people assume two things: 1) who cares? sit in your office or in a cubicle- just get the work done; or 2) Google had it right- everyone in all offices are better off sitting in an open-office format because Google does it.
A lawyer client of mine was commenting last week about how her office is switching formats in their actual office layout- instead of high cubicles, they will now have an open-office (bull-pen) style format. She was really worried about morale and the spread of gossip and a deteriorating brand for her firm.
Was she right? I think so.
Some business cultures (and types of businesses/professions, dare I say?) do not lend themselves well to certain business processes. I would agree with my client; law firms are not the best atmospheres to introduce open-office formats. A 2013 survey found that such offices often lead to distractions that decreased performance. In the world of law firms, I define “distractions” as gossip and posturing for power among employees.
In addition, in law firms you need privacy for certain transactions and the type of work we do as lawyers involving client confidentiality. The counter-argument is that staff in open-office layouts are easier to “watch” and monitor. Indeed- and this in an of itself could lead to low morale and a disjointed brand culture. After all, unless an employee has given you reason to not trust them, why don’t you trust them to not watch them all day long?
What does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
- What type of brand culture and environment do you work in?
- Does the physical layout of your offices lend itself to a healthy brand culture? Why or why not?
- What type of business do you work in? If it is something like the practice of law, consider the personalities and type of work that is done, then create the physical atmosphere.
Have you ever purchased something from a company and it was a really hollow experience? I’m not talking about poor customer service necessarily. I’m talking about the fact that you walk away and feel empty and exhausted. At the very least, you feel as if there was nothing memorable about your purchase. You have no recall value for the company and their product beyond the immediate purchase.
This happened to me recently when I bought a car. I left the dealership happy with my new car. However, I also felt very much like I didn’t really matter to the dealership. I was just another number they could check off because they were closer to their monthly quota. In fact, every time I drive by the dealership, I look away and wince- I’d like to leave behind and forget the entire experience. And car buying is not a novel concept to me.
Not good for business, right? What gives?
The dealership had no soul. By this I mean, there was no real emotional resonance with their clients. The dealership likely did not care about us as clients. The money came first.
On the other hand, contrast the dealership experience with that of a company like Zappos. When you order shoes from Zappos, you are part of their process and brand culture. Heck, you can even get on their website and read about their brand culture and values. It doesn’t read like our typical corporate “mission statement”. You can almost feel the sincerity and excitement. Now that’s soul.
So what does this mean for you? Consider:
If you work for a company, does your employer have soul? Does your employer:
• Have an established brand culture based on individual employee brand values? If not, then it is hard for you to feel part of something greater than yourself.
• Share what’s important with you? This is beyond “mission” and “vision”. I see this as a daily act- simple, and not always easy.
If you are in leadership at a company, does your company have soul? Do you and the leadership team:
• Really make sure each customer/client walks away with a sense of joy and high recall value for your business and product?
• Instill this sense of “soul” with each employee daily?
Was this helpful? If so, please share it with others. Email me and let me know your thoughts and experiences on this subject.
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.