Employees make the “Brand”….

Employees are the heart of the brand's eco-system

Mid of this year I was involved in a change management assignment. One of the key areas of change was to create a fit between the organisation’s business goals and the employees’ individual objectives. The goal was to make sure a smooth brand experience delivery from the employees.

I was instrumental in evaluating the existing corporate culture and recommending strategic changes in the same to have more ownership from the employees. As I started with meeting key employees, I realised that, both the senior management & the employees, had never really sat down and articulated the work culture or even the philosophy of the organisation that created the prevailing, lackadaisical attitude towards how the brand was projected. Attitudinally the employees were hostile towards the brand!

From a brand’s perspective, importance of corporate culture to and for an employee, is a very key reason in the output of the brand’s image and experience to its stakeholders.

Employees are one of the main stakeholders of any brand. In-fact they are the heart of the brand as its their actions and inter-actions that create the image perception of the brand in the targeted stakeholders mind.  Yet, it’s strange, as to how many organisations (small and medium-sized), fail to acknowledge the importance of “corporate culture” vis-a-vis the employee.

An organisation having strong ethics, shared goals and an individual development base, inspires the employee to strive for delivering to the best of his/her ability. This comes about because the employee “likes” going to work every day, “learns” and is ““appreciated” and that makes the employee imbibe the brand values  and project it. Strong teamwork is visible. Positivity is visible. And success ,of the tactical brand activities, occurs.

So how do we develop, implement and inculcate a change in an existing corporate culture?

It’s possible and do-able provided the senior management team finds value in it, believes in it and champions it through action.

How can it be done?
1: Identify the platform on which the culture would be based: This would need to be based on certain business ethics and social norms that the brand would want to promote and foster among all its stakeholders. Based on this ethical platform find the “values” that the corporate brand should project/uphold.

2: Inform and internalise: through a planned series of interactive workshops, these values to the employees by clearly linking them to their work functions and relating back as to how, not projecting, the same affects the brand and in turn affects the bottom-line.

3: Get the employees involved: Get them to put down, in their own words how they would personalise i.e. project the values themselves and thereby project the culture internally and externally. (At this point also identify and have a few “champions” i.e. leaders who would in a way “police” the cultural implementation.)

4: Ensure measurement: A measurable, performance indicator has to be in place which should be clearly explained to the employee and ensured that comprehension is there i.e.: the employee should be clear that his/her performance (in this area) will affect the company overall and there is direct accountability.

Having initiated the program, keeping momentum going is extremely important. This is where a structured internal communications program for regularly highlighting the employee achievements, undertakings are communicated.

What this does is:
A) It informs the organisation as to who’s championing the specific activities
B) It motivates the competitive spirit within divisions and dept.’s to do their bit and get their names on the “communication roster”

On the whole, the entire staff moves in one, planned direction, thereby projecting the desired behaviour. This benefits the brand as all other stakeholders’ receive a “positive face” of the brand. This in turn strengthens their relationship with the brand and viola leads to increasing revenue.