Business owners and leaders work very hard to build their brand and to develop and maintain their reputation in the marketplace. This process often takes many years of investment in time and money and it is critical to ensure all aspects of your business support the ongoing attainment of brand identity and reputational growth
This article provides some insights in developing and maintaining your brand and enhancing your reputation by engaging and utilising your number one asset – your team.
What is a brand?
Simply put, a brand is a promise. It creates expectations in the mind of your customers and needs to live up to these expectations by remaining true to what it stands for such as a guarantee of quality, a mark of pride and a way to help simplify choice.
The importance of brands and branding is growing because of the complexity of our lives. Branding is about creating differences and increasing brand equity. Branding transforms products and services into known and trusted customer experiences resulting in consumer preference and loyalty. Imagine our world without the distinctive tick of Nike, the M of McDonald’s and the ‘i’ in a popular mobile phone and the promises each affords us.
Do my employees have a role with my business branding?
When we first employ someone, we introduce them to the business through an induction and we talk about expectations and workplace standards. A critical part of the induction and orientation process is to ensure the new employee is aware of the whole business’ activities, products and services, its target market and its customer service and engagement program.
Taking these steps allows an employee to convey more complete messages to your customers and grant them a greater sense of confidence in the dealings with members of the public. The key benefits are that a new employee is better able to represent your business in a range of settings whether at work in your business, at a dinner party with friends or on social media. We often call this process and its outcome “employee engagement”.
There are essentially three tiers or levels of employee engagement within a business and in a small business, these often overlap. The following is a simple description of these three tiers:
- Organisational – having a mission, core values and a business strategy
- Managerial – leadership and management style within the business
- Employee – front line employee, teams and their nature
In considering an employee engagement strategy, we should consider several factors:
- Do I think my employees are engaged at work? If so, how can I tell?
- Are my employees loyal to my business?
- How do I measure these things?
- If I don’t know, where do I start?
Employee engagement is a strategic and ongoing process designed to bring all employees into a situation of being fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and the business who then take positive action to further your business’ reputation and interests.
Characteristics of engaged and disengaged employees:
The following table provides a general guide of the characteristics of engaged and disengaged employees:
How does employee engagement really affect by business’ reputation?
Business people expend consider cost and energy into protecting the reputation of their business. Decisions are often made with the protection of a business’ reputation being the key factor. For example, a particular product you sell may be suffering from a range of faults and customers are either complaining about it or are wanting to return the product. If the product’s image is felt to harm the business’ reputation, a business may choose to forego the product’s revenue to protect the image of the business and hence its reputation. In a similar way, employees can impress upon your customer a poor image of the business by how they treat customers, how they present themselves (how they speak and are dressed) and even how they advocate your business and its products and services.
Employees who are engaged become very effective ambassadors for your business – they want to promote your business, its products and services, its branding with all helping to promote your business’ reputation.
What are some actions I can take to introduce an employee engagement program?
The following is a summary of some steps you can take to support engagement of your employees within your business by ensuring:
- your employees understand the importance of their job in your business
- your employees also know the expectations of their role and how to seek clarification if they are not sure (having position descriptions, policies and reliable systems assist with this)
- employees are regularly provided with feedback – focus on being positive but be prepared to provide corrective feedback adopting a coaching and encouraging style
- working relationships are optimised and communication within work teams and in the broader organisation is open, honest and helpful
- values and expected behaviours of all employees within your business is well known and consistently practised and where these are not complied with, taking corrective or disciplinary action that is consistent
- communication is clear and employee feedback is seriously considered
- employees are kept up to date with business offering, products, launches, new innovations etc.
Employee engagement is not a single step taken by a business’ owner or a manager within the business. It is a continuous process to support your brand and business reputation and requires regular attention.
Please note that the above information is provided as comment and should not be relied on as a substitute for detailed professional advice.