Different people have different interpretations of what brand building means. Sadly, many equate advertising campaigns or logo changes to branding exercises – which only scrapes the surface of holistic brand building.
Instead, brands must be built enterprise wide and most importantly, inside out. Companies that fail to deliver on their brand promises will inevitably face the eventual erosion of trust among stakeholders. As such, employee communication is in fact the true game changer. It is the key ingredient for great brands and organizations because effective branding strategies must address the ‘heart’ of the organization – the people.
Employee communication can make or break a brand. Just like in an orchestra, the CEO, acting as the conductor, gives direction and invokes life in the corporation’s actions. CEOs need to ensure that employee communication and external communication initiatives are seamlessly synchronized to reach the optimum level of positive impact on stakeholders.
At Perspective Strategies, we have had the privilege to work on a number of internal communication assignments particularly for M&A exercises where employee communication played a critical role in realizing the full potential of the new company or new brand. Based on our experience, we found a number of critical and best practices to strengthen employee communication.
Here are five simple yet very important elements:
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears….”
It’s been more than 500 years after Shakespeare penned these lines for Mark Anthony to marshal opinions from various stakeholders at Julius Caesar’s wake, and the need for today’s leaders to listen to its stakeholders has not diminished. If you don’t listen to your employees, there is no way you can communicate with them effectively. Listen to win the hearts and minds of your team! Inspire the team by sharing your dream
Sharing of facts and figures don’t move your people. What drives your people to give their best is your dreams for the organization or brand. Just like in the movie “The Greatest Showman”, Charity Barnum sings:
“However big, however small. Let me be part of it all. Share your dreams with me. You may be right, you may be wrong. But say that you’ll bring me along…A million dreams is all it’s gonna take. A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”
Employees want their leaders to bring them along in pursuit of their dreams. Passionate people work to make dreams come true! Imagine that power in your organization!
Be Open and Honest
Tell it as it is. Honesty is the best policy. No doubt about this especially when it comes to employee communication. There will always be good and bad news, so communicating clearly and honestly goes a long way to winning employees’ trust.
Planned and timely
Many organizations tend to only focus on prioritizing communication with external stakeholders particularly customers. This is a grave mistake. Whilst customer testimonies are critical, your employees are your best mouthpiece. They should be the first to know and winning their hearts require effort – just like any marketing strategy, employee communication needs to be planned and timing is of the essence.
No one wants to work in a boring company, particularly the millennials. The tone and manner in how we communicate with our people, especially with the younger talent pool now making up the majority of the work force, has to change to be less formal and most all, fun too.
For example, in one recent example with a former client: the CEO decided to make the post-merger office move to a single premise, fun. He initiated a ‘Move Day’ whereby everyone packed their stuff and together marched a few kilometers across the busy streets to the new premises. It was such a fun activity for the staff instead of “just another office move”. Perhaps that workout is all it takes!
There is no quick solution. Be it for external communication or internal employee communication, CEOs and senior management must consciously and conscientiously convey the organizations key messages consistently even though they may sound like a broken record. This must be kept up for as long as the organization hopes to stay relevant and create value for its stakeholders.
Very few have done employee communications exceptionally well. Nonetheless brands and organizations need to take up this challenge if they hope to compete in today’s globalized economy.
Let’s go WOW the team!