Let’s use an example to bring this point home. Let’s say that you want to buy a new TV. You go off to the shops to price them. You walk into Shop A. They have a friendly salesperson to help you make your decision.
You ask some questions about the different makes and models. The salesperson doesn’t know all of the answers, so they go out in search of someone to help them. You get the answers and then leave for the next shop.
Now you go into Shop B. They too have a friendly salesperson to help you make your decision. This staff member, however, sees matching the right TV to the right customer as his mission in life. You explain what you’re looking for and ask your questions.
This salesperson knows the answers straight off the bat. He even highlights features that are nice add-ons rather than absolutely essential. Boy does this guy know what he’s talking about.
Now, which shop would you rather buy from? Which salesperson do you think is giving you the best advice? Obviously, the person from Shop B. Why? That’s the difference between having a job and living a brand.
Shop B’s salesperson was passionate about his job. He took the time to learn more about every product so that he could give the right information every time. Both salespeople were friendly enough, but you’d trust the second person more because he knew the answers.
If your company wants to promote itself as honest and fair, that needs to be embedded into the corporate culture. It’s not enough to say that you want your staff to be honest and fair with clients if you don’t treat them honestly and fairly yourself.
In the business world, leaders often adopt a “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude. This is wrong on so many levels. For starters, if you don’t buy into the brand values yourself, how do you expect your staff to?
You need to be a walking, talking example of the brand values in action. The values that the company stands for must be as apparent to your staff as it is to your clients, which means dealing with your team in the same way that you’d like them to treat your clients.
You’ll do this in your dealings with your staff, but also in your dealings with clients. If you blow off clients or dodge them, you’re telling the staff that you don’t really care. If you don’t care, then why should they?
Work on leading the company through your own good example. Nothing is quite as demoralising for staff than when they’ve gotten into trouble because you were just paying lip service to the rules.
The first step in the process of getting staff to accept brand values is to be more careful during the hiring process. You want people who already demonstrate some of the values that your company stands for.
You’re not looking for someone who would be satisfied doing any job available. If your employee is just going to come in to clock in and clock out, they’re not going to be that invested in the brand. That’s why the initial interview procedure needs to be fine-tuned to weed out time-wasters.
Of course, people do put their best feet forward when it comes to a job interview, and that can make it difficult to weed out undesirables. It’s important to find a good fit here. Looking for an employee who has similar values and who would be a good fit within the corporate culture is essential.
When it comes to existing employees, it is necessary to remind them of the values that the company holds dear. They’ll need to make sure that they’re a walking, talking reminder of what those values are.
This area is all about attitude and cultivating the right atmosphere and image. Say, for example, that efficiency and excellence are two of the brand values that you want to encourage.
If a staff member comes to work with untidy hair, or clothes that need to be ironed, the client is going to get the idea that he’s not all that efficient. And, if the frontline guy is not all that efficient, it doesn’t inspire confidence in the client that the back-office staff are any better.
Employees need to understand the essential role that they play here clearly. They are the face of the company. If they don’t project that they buy into the brand values, then they can’t convince a client to do the same.
Of course, there’s a difference between an employee who doesn’t believe in the brand values and one who has to follow procedures that might be contrary to those values. Let’s look at another example here.
In this case, we have a bank whose motto is “Fast and friendly service every time.” In this case, the company’s brand identity suggests that all clients are entitled to fast service. In reality, though, because of anti-fraud procedures, this was not always the case.
For example, if someone comes in with a cheque from another branch to cash, established procedure states that that branch needs to authorise the transaction. This means scanning the cheque through and then sending it to the original branch. Then you’d have to wait for the branch to approve it.
All the while, the client was waiting and fuming because it was taking so long. In this instance, it didn’t really matter if the staff were committed to living the brand values. The laid down procedure took preference, so cashing a cheque like this would always be problematic.
Eventually, the bank came up with a different solution. They ensured that all the signature cards and identification linked to each account were scanned into the system, which meant that the staff could then check this information on the computer without having to refer to the parent branch.
Look for ways in which your corporate culture may be standing in your company’s way, and see what changes might solve the issue.
Does your staff need to be able to act with more autonomy? Say that your salesperson is trying to land a big account. Is he able to offer discounts that might sweeten the pot? Is he able to negotiate in other areas to get this account landed?
If the salesperson is not empowered to make some decisions without your intervention, you are hamstringing them. Think about the procedures your firm uses daily. Do they serve the corporate culture, or do they harm it?
Now, granted, you can’t just throw all caution to the wind and let everyone do what they want, but there are areas where things don’t have to be quite so black and white.
This point is a little harder to deal with because the power dynamic is very different in this case. It’s not like you can threaten to take a client’s livelihood away if they step out of line, nor would you want to. Again here, the key is in the way that everyone in your organisation behaves towards your clients.
We teach people how to treat us by our actions. So, if you consistently let a client break the rules, they’re going to expect to be able to do so in future. Or, if we’re supposedly behind fair trading, and then we buy goods from a sweatshop, that paints a picture for our clients as well.
When it comes to your company’s brand values, there should be no wiggle room. Every action that your company takes should be done following those brand values.
It’s actually pretty simple. If you want to build a strong brand, you need to ensure that everyone in the company buys into it. It’s not enough for everyone in the organisation to say that they do. They must demonstrate it in their day to day work lives.
It’s pointless for the guys at the top to merely pay lip service to these values. If the CEO and senior management are not willing to demonstrate their commitment to building the brand, they’re not inspiring others to do the same.
It’s quite simple, really – the staff must be led by example. Show them how it’s done and then work on making it as easy as possible for them to adhere to the brand values at work.
If the staff of the organisation fully buy into the brand values, the clients will notice a difference. They’ll be able to see that the company’s promises mean something and that the company understands the importance of its brand values.
What can you do today to demonstrate to your staff that you’re living your brand values? Can you think of a process or procedure that makes it impossible to act on those values? How can you get your staff to follow your lead?
These are all questions that you’ll need to answer before you’re able to move ahead. Why not have a brainstorming session with your staff and see what ideas they come up with? Or why not approach your clients for feedback on how well your service matches your brand values.
You might be surprised at what you find out. And you should absolutely want to know. That way, you can work towards resolving any disconnects and building a stronger brand.
For help with building your brand and how you can embed a successful company culture, get in touch now by emailing [email protected] or give us a call on 01473 217993.
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