Mobilizing people to build your brand: The Power of One.
Every employee, regardless of title or seniority, has the power to influence what people think of your organization. Each has the power to influence whether prospects buy, and customers return to buy again. Each can influence referrals as well as other employees’ job satisfaction. Some exert their considerable influence directly through their dealings with customers; others indirectly, through their interactions with other employees. This, in a nutshell, is The Power of One.
Strip everything else away and a brand is all about people. It’s about the people who buy, donate, join, or volunteer. It’s about the people who supply products and services. It’s about the people who hear things and pass them on to others. And, most importantly, it’s about the people who work for an organization. As we’ve often said, a brand is simply what clients, customers, members, or donors believe an organization and its products and services can do for them. And what these folks believe begins with something an employee has said or done, or didn’t say or didn’t do.
For the most part, employees want the organization that employs them to succeed. Each has a job to do, and knows when he or she has delivered what’s expected of them. However, there’s something else that impacts what people think of an organization and its ability to deliver the right products and services. And this can be traced back to the organization's core values and the way in which these have been communicated, interpreted and operationalized within the organization.
What it means to live a brand.
Core values are principals an organization prizes above all others. Many organizations have developed a list. It might include words like proactive, supportive, dynamic and empathetic. You can find these lists on corporate websites, in annual reports and on office walls. However, it’s one thing to have a list, quite another to have words that actually mean something to employees.
All too often, the words are just that, words. I’ll bet many of us have worked for companies that had a set of core values, …but did nothing to educate us about them and how they could make our job easier and our employer more successful.
Living the brand means, by definition, representing an organization in a specific way. It implies that the brand has been defined on a number of levels, including the way in which employees are expected to treat customers as well as their fellow employees. It encourages people to act in ways that help position a company to achieve its goals, and become a go-to supplier in its business category and market segment.
Bringing core values to life.
On their website, Northrop Grumman lists a number of values – Quality, Customer Satisfaction, Leadership, Integrity, People, and Suppliers. Each of these is defined in a way that employees can understand and operationalize. Take Integrity for example:
We act with INTEGRITY in all we do…
We are each personally accountable for the highest standards of behavior, including honesty and fairness in all aspects of our work. We fulfill our commitments as responsible citizens and employees. We will consistently treat customers and company resources with the respect they deserve.
While most companies would stop there, Northrop Grumman takes it one step further. They identify a set of behaviours to guide employees as they strive to live their brand. Here’s one of these:
Live the Company Values
We all have the company values listed on the back of our badges—Quality, Customer Satisfaction, Leadership, Integrity, People, Suppliers. Integrity must characterize everything we do. We want everyone who comes in contact with us to know that we do things the right way at Northrop Grumman. We don't take short cuts.
Perhaps not surprisingly, this company has been recognized as a Top 50 Employer and a Top 50 Company for Diversity, amongst other things.
Engaging employees: The Power of One.
That’s what this is really about – mobilizing employees to help build a brand by living that brand. A solid set of core values, well defined in terms of expected behaviours, is not only a great starting point, it's the first step in harnessing The Power of One.