Bartek Brach advises organizations on internal branding. Ula asked him what an employer should do to make employees speak for thecompany.
The first thing Bartek suggested we should do is to consider the topic through employees’ behavior. Ask yourself if your employees speak well of your company and are ready to defend it.
… are satisfied with their job because it meets their expectations when it comes to development opportunities, working hours, salary. In different moments of life we tend to have different expectations regarding our job, so when the job meets those requirements right now, we will be willing to say positive things about the company which offers us the job.
… must get more from their work than sole satisfaction. It should be something that’s enough to identify with the company.
Being able to identify with your workplace and being satisfied with it are basically two different things, even though they may seem similar.
When it comes to satisfaction from work, it is key to provide understanding between employee’s expectations and what the company has to offer. Identification, on the other hand, is all about compatibility between the company’s philosophy and employee’s individual worldview. Clearly, things are more serious with identification, as it is about employees understanding of the corporate values and accepting them as important, and starting to support them. When employees know where the company is going to and it’s in line with their own worldview, they are able to identify with the company and defend its good name.
Bartek confirms there is a trend nowadays to think that all company’s employees should be the brand’s ambassadors, convincing others to buy its products and believing endlessly in what they do. Meanwhile, if the company has no higher values – and it doesn’t have to have them, because it just makes money and wants to win a high market position – there is nothing wrong with it. A car seat assembling company does not need to have a mission which engages all the employees. Such a company is a good place for people who can simply come to work, do their job and get a monthly transfer to their bank account. They can locate their passions and values in a completely different place, outside the company. Their job gives them a sense of security and stability, so it is important to them, even though they are not saving the world each day.
Many organizations would like to have values which function internally and which get rewarded. But what to do when your people are only expected to bring results and to act individually, and company values are emphasizing teamwork? You can “hang the values on the wall,” look away and focus on the most important thing – the results. But if the company wants to implement those nicely framed values, they need to be explained and a relationship must be seen between the values and employees’ everyday tasks. You need to help people identify with the values. It may not be obvious to everyone what’s behind the words PASSION, COOPERATION, COMMITMENT, CUSTOMER IN THE CENTER, VICINITY.
These words are so capacious and can be interpreted in so many ways, often very far from what people do every day, that it’s hard to find any connection between those huge words hanging on the wall and your job.
Bartek emphasizes that the first thing a company should do with their values is to explain them clearly and with reference to what people do. For instance, instead of talking about vicinity, you can say “treat your customers the way you would like to be treated.” Naturally, employees will not change their attitude right away only because you tell them to, but there is a good chance they will start changing it. Another step is to follow the values by those who are in charge, especially by direct managers. Nevertheless, understanding the values and a good example coming from the top will not be enough, if the values are not enforced in any way, e.g. during annual appraisal.
The healthiest company that I’ve seen in Poland, launched after 1990, which I had an opportunity to advise to, was a place where even warehouse employees would say: “We act the way our boss does.”
A boss who is an example for employees, prior to requiring anything, first pays attention to what values he or she represents in contacts with employees, customers and other people. Such a boss knows that to say something is one thing, but to do is another thing.
In the recruitment process, many managers make sure the new employees follow the same values as the company. But there is a jeopardy in too much cohesion. Our expert emphasizes that a company where everyone thinks and acts similar becomes very prone to market changes and will find it very difficult to adjust to them. Which is whyBartek warns against too much similarity and advises to have some “rebels” inside, whose way of thinking is not in line with company’s order. Such people will be the biggest support in case of difficulties. And if they appreciate the freedom of thinking you give them, it is highly probable they will become your company’s ambassadors.
Francesca Gino wrote (…) the book “Rebel Talent”. She states clearly that we should keep such Rebels at our companies. People who are against the status quo, who are totally against our values (…), because they are our insurance policy for the times when the environment and the business model start to change. Who will lead the change then? Who will help us to adapt? People who are different than we are.
We would like to thank Sklejka cafe for providing space and delicious coffee.
This is just one of “Your First Customer” interviews. Interested? Watch other interviews. You can also read the book “Your First Customer. How to Turn Employees into Company Ambassadors”.