Welcome to the Buzzzzin' blog by B Hive Branding. Thank you for taking the time to check us out and give this a read. Are you in leadership or marketing at your business? Or are you an employee who is tired of failed communications from your leaders? If so, please read on. Maybe consider printing this off and dropping it by your leader's office, or sending the link to them with a few of your own ideas on how leadership could put these practices into motion. In todays blog post, we dive into effectively tapping into employees to build the brand leaders dream of. After all, effective branding starts on the inside. How leaders communicate, the messages they send, how well they listen and ask questions of their team, all lends to whether a successful brand is realized or not.
As a leader, it is commonly understood that your employees are the heart, sole, brain and backbone of your business. However, have you stopped to consider that a lack of intentional engagement from your employees can derail even the best thought out action plans to boost consumer engagement, resulting in a public bashing of your business on social media and in word of mouth conversations, and lead to reduced sales?
Many, and in fact most, leaders talk about the importance of their people. However in several instances, their actions in terms of internal communications say otherwise. Too often internal communication comes down to agency-wide email blasts which fail to communicate strategy and the goal outcomes leadership has for sharing the information to begin with.
Some common miscommunications leaders make when disseminating information include:
Word barriers: When in meetings, many words used are acronyms or consulting jargon which general team members as not familiar and not synced on regularly.
Listen and leave: Many times, leadership/management 'dump and run' on the team. Leadership brings everyone together to share information in a word dump, but then doesn't follow up with questions or desire feedback from the team to hold engaging conversation to ensure the reason behind a decision.
Hot spam: “Hot” emails forwarded multiple times lack emphasis on why the information was important or what actions need to be taken by the recipient.
Segmentation: Emails are not divided by division, role, demographic or location — for example, an email of an employee recognition event featuring free ice cream is sent to employees located in a different state who cannot attend.
Reinforcement: Team calls or team meetings do not recognize positive outcomes or ideal behaviors that drive the focus on customer needs and satisfaction.
Assumptions: Leaders state, “the team knows what I mean” or “it’s obvious” while employees respond with shrugs, vacant expressions or have multiple, conflicting perspectives.
Integration: New-hire onboarding fails to include information on customers, business goals, culture or defined successes.
When a business truly desires to deliver on brand promise, priority number one for leadership should be their employees due to the employees level of influence. Consider this: employees influence how business is done, what products are made, how people are treated and ways resources are allocated. Employees are also integral to fulfilling an organization’s philosophy of customer experience, and therefore must be included in the organization’s strategy.
In order to tap into your gold mine of employees and build the truly customer-centered brand, you must consider three things: get personal, listen intently, and share more.
When you get to know your employees on a personal basis, you learn who the best information sharers are. You may have historically thought to share news through leadership. However during the phase of getting personal, you may make the discovery that some leaders don’t effectively frame and cascade the information (or just hit “forward” without context) and that your best avenue to get the word out might be other influencers who are naturally known around the company for having the inside scoop and full of inspiration to the team.
Understanding what your staff needs to know, how they like to receive it and how often is critical for building the brand value. Consider creating surveys and conducting focus groups to understand information preferences — content, format, frequency, tone, visuals and where/how they read emails.
Listen. Give samples. Listen some more. Ask more questions. Continue listening. Be willing to change your whole communications approach so that it provides the context and value you need to share, in the ways that your employees will understand and appreciate. The result? A marked increase in understanding of your organization’s goals, values, business operations, policies, culture, resources, services and customers within one year? Why not tailor corporate communications to better empower employees and in turn create more informed communicators of your brand to customers and the public?
Information is power, so use it to empower your team. Too often I see leaders and organizations hung up around releasing information, trying to get the words perfect. Employees don’t need perfection; they need context, inspiration, fundamentals, data, accountability and direction. This only comes through the sharing of information.
Look for creative and targeted ways to share information. Remember that you’re trying to reach a variety of folks and there are six primary adult learning styles: visual, aural, print, tactile, interactive and kinesthetic.
Finally, as you work to improve your internal communications, remember that you get what you measure. If you measure emails sent and meetings held, then you’ll get more emails sent and meetings held. But does that measure the application of information? — sending it is not enough if it’s not internalized and acted on.