Build Your Brand Step By Step

 -  8/16/11

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In today’s technologically savvy world, and given the infiltration of social media, an employer’s brand can be built or torn down with even a single tweet gone awry. Building a positive brand is crucial for employers who seek to effectively recruit and retain the best employees, and forward-thinking companies strive to brand themselves as a good place to work in the minds of employees, potential job candidates, clients, customers and the business media.

A company’s brand reflects far more than just a pay and benefits package. It is a promise that delivers career advancement, learning opportunities and personal respect. This brand shines when there’s adequate focus on talent manager-employee relationship and among teams. An organization promoting itself as a “best place to work” when it’s anything but will soon discover that reality trumps image.

If you think you can create a positive brand with lofty mission or values statements, think again. A positive brand is grown one relationship at a time. Engagement between talent managers and employees is not a communication objective — it comes from understanding and satisfying workplace needs, creating a passion for excellence among people who want their organization to succeed because they feel emotionally connected to it.

Create trust and communication. Employees care about more than career development and compensation. They are more likely to exit because of a bad manager than a bad company. They want good relationships with peers, and to be respected and treated as individuals with unique needs and aspirations. Employees are more likely to improve their performance when they are engaged with their jobs, co-workers and managers. Trust is the foundation for such an employment relationship, and managers can build trust in their interpersonal relationships through open communication, collaboration and prioritizing the needs of others as they reflect diverse styles and expectations.

Clear expectations are also essential to communication and trust, and expectations must be a two-way street. Supervisors should not just tell employees what is expected of them; instead, they need to initiate dialogue about how employees see their roles in a particular project, how they would do it differently or what they would suggest to meet a difficult commitment to a customer. Where there is such dialogue, a manager’s behavior must be authentic to engage trust. If he or she emphasizes that diligence and detailed planning are essential to getting the job done, but in reality operates using whim and indecision, no one will be fooled. The gap between words and actions will erode trust in the manager, and thus erode the employer brand.

Don’t neglect insight and self-awareness. It cannot just be assumed that talent managers will automatically recognize what they should do and how they might fall short. A consistent training effort is necessary to help build the kind of supervisory skills that enable them to communicate with and build trust among employees with a broad array of personality types. Different organizations, or different areas within the same organization, require different types of supervision. What motivates a sales team or a manufacturing department is very different from what motivates accounting or IT. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Self-awareness is the initial step for talent leaders who want to increase their range of skills so they can effectively motivate a broad array of personality types.

Identify motivators. Talent managers can only understand the motivation of others if they understand their own motivational drivers and how they may be different from those of other individuals. Personality assessment tools used in a structured management development program can accelerate this learning and provide reliable, non-judgmental information for opening authentic communication. When assessments help talent managers see what motivates themselves as well as their employees, they can be more effective at actions that motivate employees — this supports the employer brand.

Encourage team building. Talent managers with the right insight can help employees understand the importance of their contributions to the success of the organization. Newsletters and memos cannot match the motivational power of personal communication among managers and employees in a team context.

Improved relationships and communications within teams have significant impact on employee engagement, by building trust and goodwill. The long-term benefit of the branding and team-building process is that it creates new ways for an employer to stand out in the minds of the top performers who possess the skills that are most in demand in a competitive business environment.

Sharon Birkman Fink is president and CEO of Birkman International Inc., developer of The Birkman Method leadership and team development tool. She can be reached at