The way you manage your employees has a trickle-down effect on your brand as a whole, and it’s time everyone that owns a business realizes that.
Your brand values are vital to your business, whether you know it or not. In blog post #1 I explained how to create your brand based on the value you provide and the passion behind it. These days, us consumers know your business not by what you sell, but by who is selling it. We probably know more about your brand than you do, and we see everything you sell through the filter of who we know you to be.
Part of what we know about your brand comes from your employees. Think about it—our first point of contact with your company, after seeing your logo and maybe some advertisements, is the people that work for you. These people represent your business to us, and are therefore your brand ambassadors by definition. That makes them extremely valuable to your company.
You don’t know what your employees are doing or saying, or how they’re representing your business? That’s ok. If you feel the need to creepily monitor your employees or micromanage them—don’t. If you feel nervous all of a sudden, there are ways you can have more control over the people representing your business without keeping tabs on everything they do and say.
If you haven’t thought about the way you interact with your employees, now is a good time. Also, if you think everything that happens within your business is confidential, you’re mistaken. Like I said earlier, consumers probably know more about your brand than you do. Why? Because your brand is a combination of your efforts and your audience’s perception of them. Consumers have stock in your brand because they’re helping to create it with their reactions and their habits.
So what can you do to have a better handle on how your company is being represented? I think most of it comes down to how you manage your employees. You see, it’s not enough for them to love your business if they don’t feel like they’re actively contributing to its success. In the same way, having a passion for the product won’t keep them happy with their jobs if they’re not being appreciated for what they do.
Your management style sets the stage for your entire brand. You can make up all the brand values you want, but the real characteristics of your business always show themselves. If the atmosphere in your office, or the tone of your conversation, is loose, fun, and inviting, your brand is probably known for having the same effect. On the other hand, if you treat your employees like new recruits in the Army or use them simply as pawns to reap the maximum benefit of their efforts, your brand will start to have a self-interested air about it.
If you’re thinking, “Well what do I have to do? Say ‘thank you’ all the time or something?” that’s actually a good start. The simplest form of recognition can go a long way, especially for menial tasks. But it’s not about just directly showing appreciation, it’s about including someone in the important parts of your business, and making them feel like they’re making an impact.
This happens when you value their opinion and expertise. Instead of barking orders, have conversations. Instead of measuring output, first ask for input. It takes a great leader to admit that they don’t know everything, and that is when employees feel they can be valuable.