Who are your brand ambassadors?
By Kelly Allder, VP of HR Programs, Ceridian
I’ve played on a co-ed softball team for over 15 years. We started out as the youngest team in the league and now we’re the oldest. We’re the nice team. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we have fun on the diamond and off. Umpires like us, other teams like us; we’re just really pleasant people.
This sets the stage for a recent interaction I had with one of my teammates. Our catcher, let’s call her Helen, is mild-mannered. She has grey curly hair and a consistent ground-out to 3rd base, but a “smile as you run down the first baseline” approach to life. She’s lovely, always cheering for teammates, even when they make mistakes. And she’s generous. She actually gave her husband one of her kidneys!
Last weekend, I overheard Helen (well, she was shouting, so really everyone heard her) talking about her boss. During her diatribe Helen became a name-calling, F-bomb slinger with anger issues. She waved her hands around and actually growled. In talking about her company, our mild-mannered Helen became a hot-headed mess!
Helen started by describing her recent performance review. It lasted 7 minutes, with little actual feedback about her performance. For her boss it was a once a year, check the box activity. She went on to explain how, on a regular basis, her boss talks at her instead of to her, “steals her ideas”, and creates a culture where colleagues are constantly looking over their shoulder even though the company mission statement was something like “we do good things and we’re fun!”
Someone asked Helen: what company do you work for?
Then it really hit me: everyone is a brand ambassador. Every employee will promote your company culture – good or bad.
In 4 minutes, Helen’s description of her work life had me making up my mind that I would never want to work at a company that would tolerate such behavior from her manager.
This might sound like an extreme example but it still warrants an examination in terms of the effect it had. Helen’s rant was heard by over a dozen people, who then asked questions (we are curious humans), commiserated with her, and then shared their own workplace experiences. You can imagine the horror stories that were shared over subsequent innings in the dugout. I now have a list of places I DON’T WANT to work as a result.
At Ceridian, our Marketing and People organizations are officially responsible for communicating our brand and culture externally. However, it’s really ALL of our people that communicate our brand and culture. They do so by displaying our values in the sales process to customers, demonstrating our transparency during the recruiting process to candidates, and (most importantly) walking the talk in our People Management practices.
Culture is brought to life by the people who go to work every day. And your company culture is recounted, described, and related by your employees when they go home every night. What do your employees say about your organization when they are outside of its walls? What is the brand that you (collectively) are living and your employees are then conveying? And if your brand ambassadors – your Helens, if you will – aren’t sharing the story you want others to hear, what are you doing about it?
Kelly Allder is an experienced human resources consultant and dynamic facilitator. As Vice President of HR Programs, Kelly is responsible for HR technology and HR programs that help enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and collaboration of employees and managers.
Kelly is also Executive Director of Ceridian Cares, Ceridian’s very own charity, where she oversees the daily operations and national committees that give grants to people in need.
Kelly holds an MBA from Schulich School of Business at York University, and she drives a MINI Cooper. Kelly has four children, all of whom can fit into her car, plus 1 hockey bag. Follow Kelly on Twitter @kallder04!