Nearly everyone has an employee manual. It dictates policies and procedures, vacations and jury duty. Great! So a new employee knows the basics and you've covered yourself on all the legal must-dos.
But wait! How does your brand relate to internal customers? What does it mean to be part of your company? How does it feel? Sound? What should an employee say when someone asks why he came on board?
That employee has hitched his star to your wagon. He's accepted your invitation because he thinks you have something he wants to be a part of. Don't let him down.
If you really win hearts and minds, employee passion will shine through. They'll become your best advocates, and make you exponentially better. But they need your help to get there.
Create your own Internal Brand Guide to supplement your employee manual, then use it. Here are some critical things you need:
How does your external brand mesh into your internal brand?
At MB Piland, our brand isn't just about a slogan. It's certain way of doing things. We're Rubine Red (for those of you not familiar with the Pantone Color Matching System), we're Groovy, self starting go-getters. We're high energy, high integrity and high minded. We're incredibly creative and polished. We don't settle. Our clients win in the marketplace because we're an integral part of their brand from the inside out. We've become known as the Groovies.
Being a "Groovy" doesn't mean we're cookie-cutter. It does mean we bring our own talents and experiences to the team, knowing that they'll be valued and celebrated within the defined culture. Groovies know that being incredibly creative can be expressed in many different ways and we relish finding them.
Why do you exist? Is your brand part of a solution? Do you make the world better? If so, how? And do you make the world better through the product you sell, or is it through philanthropic or volunteer work your profits support—or something else?
Maybe you exist for innovation. Or to promote curiosity. What makes you get out of bed each morning? What are the company's roots? The heritage? What are your internal legends?
These are probably exciting stories. Are you sharing them internally? Everyone should be energized and helped to feel part of a purpose larger than themselves. Tell them their role in the evolving story and how they can help you move forward.
Explain this in your Guide. Make sure people know, and make it part of your daily conversation, too.
Think back to your first day at work in new companies throughout your career. What were the emotions you felt? That your choice had been the right one. You wanted to be sure you'd fit in. A Guide will help with that.
How do you celebrate birthdays? Holidays? Do people typically give gifts? Do an exchange? Make a donation instead? It's really uncomfortable for someone who doesn't know.
At MB Piland, birthdays are a big deal! Staffers plan a theme that's a surprise to the honoree. We have a potluck lunch, small gifts and lots of laughs. See our MB Piland on Facebook page for some photos. There you'll see lots of examples of how we live our internal brand.
Does your company support "Take Your Daughter to Work Day"? If so, in what way? Is it a big deal, or is it up to individual departments?
These activities—and many others—are things that should be aligned with your external brand. You probably do a lot of them already. But take an inventory to see where you might be weak. And by all means, ask your staff. They'll have some great ideas.
An Internal Brand Guide is critical. I've heard it said that happy employees = happy customers. I say raise the bar. Passionate employees = passionate customers. That's ROI you can't beat.