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Employment branding 2.0 – sans technology

June 6, 2011

When one thinks of employment branding thoughts typically turn to ubiquitous social networks and other technology tools such as career ambassadors (think Monster, Glassdoor, TalentSeekr and others). However, there are many types of organizations who are better served when technology is set aside for good old-fashioned human interaction. Using fantastic platforms such as Twitter, Yammer, LinkedIn and Facebook might work well for organizations that have an overwhelming majority of employees who spend most of their days accomplishing work via technological means – but that’s not the total picture of business today by any stretch of the imagination.

Organizations that consist largely of operations or production generally attract employees who are less likely to walk around with their heads buried in their iThings or BlackBerries, texting or Tweeting their latest life’s details. Rather, these organizations may only have management (perhaps even only upper management) who engage in a high degree of connectivity – personal or business. Considering the gap it’s not likely that efforts to convey employment value would reach the greatest number of employees, let alone the type of talent such organizations need to attract. Some of this assumption is eroded by differences between generations within the workforce and their inclination toward adoption of technology, however, it’s still not a good idea to hang employment branding’s hat on a medium the intended receiver will never benefit from.

What? No technology? No Web 2.0 or even 1.0? That’s right. Unplug.

While it might be a little scary to those who are inextricably bound by the paradigm of ubiquitous technological solutions, the fix is simple: develop an organizational communication strategy that meets employees where they are – not where unrealistic expectations reside.

“Management by walking around” is not a new concept. In fact, it could be considered by some to be a bit outdated. Despite the inclination of many to send an email to a person in the next cubicle rather than delivering the message in person, there are still many industries that are best served by the practice of human interaction. Talking with employees on a regular basis can provide a great deal of feedback that would otherwise remain unharvested. Saying “hello” to someone can make an enormous difference in how they view the company they work for and can boost their engagement by letting them know they are a valued part of the organization. When employees feel valued their interest in doing a good job increases as does their productivity. Further, employees are more likely to become loyal to the organization because they feel like they are important to the success of the organization.

Key dynamics:

  • Communicate often in a way that matches the organization’s culture
  • Be open and honest in all communications
  • Work to the strengths of the organization’s culture rather than try to extinguish it
  • Listen, then act
  • Check in regularly with employees at all levels
  • Practice consistency and fairness – always
  • Send a positive message
  • Build trust
  • Count on past and present employees to help you attract and retain talent

One final thought: low-tech approaches to employment branding work well in high-tech environments too. Get back to the basics. Your employees will love you for it.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2011 11:18 pm

    Ben Rich, the successor to the legendary Skunkworks chief engineer Kelly Johnson shared a story about the environment at their Burbank shop. Kelly had a rule that the engineers must be in close proximity to the manufacturing floor. The engineers and shop technicians could easily communicate and make decisions in a quick manner.

    Kelly also believed in small, empowered teams he entrusted with authority to make those decisions. The teams were small in number, had ability to make decisions, and knew their role and work products.

    In contrast, many organizations today are buried in paperwork, regulatory policy, cross-matrixed teams, with job roles that are undefined.

    Kelly had the right formula – his factory built the most impressive stealth fighters the world has ever seen: the SR-71, F-117, and U-2.

  2. June 6, 2011 11:22 pm

    Kelly’s 14 Rules here:
    http://www.lockheedmartin.com/aeronautics/skunkworks/14rules.html

  3. Cori Zuppo permalink*
    June 8, 2011 5:34 pm

    Outstanding points, as usual. Skunkworks is a wonderful case study and I’m glad you reminded me of it. The point about job roles that are undefined hits close to home in my consulting activity at the moment. To educate employees as to exactly what is expected of them seems basic, yet it’s not always that simple with dotted-line reporting structures and rapidly changing customer needs.

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