Employer Branding

Help! I am Terrible at Taking Baby Steps!

There is an old saying that goes something like “You have to walk before you can run.”  I’m not sure about other parents out there but with my kids did not adhere to this advice.  It was straight from crawling to running (sometimes too fast for their own good which I’m sure is where the phrase comes from).   I guess when I look at things maybe “The apple doesn’t fall from the tree.” (to use another phrase just for fun).

I am not great at walking.  I am not great at baby steps… in life or at work.  In Talent Brand, this can be a problem. There is definitely a fine line and a balance that is needed.

On the one hand, you are the new player on the team.  The marketing and creative departments might have a little bit of a feeling that you are invading their space.  The recruiting team may wonder about some of your tactics as they are a bit of a game changer and might ‘take over their job.’

On the other hand, being the new player requires to ‘push the envelope.’  Your role is not to implement a specific brand but to educate, convince, and cheerlead the way the talent brand should be bought into by the whole company. The true success of the company depends on how much importance/respect (gained by trust) the leaders of the company give to Talent Brand.  We live in an experience economy. The employment and talent brand experience is the glue that holds it all together (product, company, brand, customer, and employee experiences). To do this you cannot just ‘lay low’ and do things the way they have always been done.

These are things I have experienced in very diverse companies and are probably the number one concern I hear when speaking at conferences about Employment Brand.  I’m not perfect at taking on these challenges, but I would like to try to offer some advice from what I’ve learned so far in this adventure.

Don’t freak out – it’s nothing personal!

Change is hard… for them and us!  In the past Marketing/Creative have always owned anything representing the company externally.  Let’s face it… in recruiting there were our phone calls, job descriptions, and interviews but those weren’t really respected as actually impacting external perception.  All of a sudden we are not only ‘owning’ external (and I would add internal employee) perception but we are taking action on it and trying to create a positive impact. In other words… we are not just owning the Glassdoor page and taking that off their plate… we are going out there and pulling people in where the brand has never had a presence before.

We are causing ‘heads to turn.’  That is a tough thing to ‘let go of’ or not overshadow.  Historically it’s been pretty easy to own and maintain what the outside world thinks of us.  Marketing/Creative ‘had control’ of it. Social, employment brand and brand ambassadors have caused mass confusion and frustration that they are no longer in control of anything.  Recently I was reading through Disruptive Marketing by Geoffrey Colon and, although I don’t agree with every detail he says about it, the section on the ‘losing control’ makes perfect sense and put a lot of things into perspective for me.

I recently had a real-life situation play out that included this ‘lack of control’ panic from the marketing team.  At first, I was livid! I just wanted one victory that I could smile at… celebrate with a glass of wine… and feel good about! Although the company and CEO were totally pumped about my effort (I’m talking high-fives and fist bumps in an all-hands meeting walking back to my seat) the marketing department came crashing down.  To top it off… it was nothing that was even in my control but I was blamed for it on an assumption that I authored it. Like I said… at first, I was totally upset that it ‘ruined’ my ‘moment’ but then I realized… this is not about me!  As soon as that hit I knew I just had to figure out a way that proved we were both in it for the good of the company (and collaborate on the ‘control issue’.  All in all, I was still able to ‘bask in the glory’ while realizing it was nothing personal and more just a ‘growing pain’ in acceptance of change.

Show them the benefits of you walking on your own!

Give them something that means something to THEM! Traffic… company brand attention… give them or let them take credit!  I know it sounds cheesy and something that you shouldn’t have to do but let’s be serious ‘bribing by fame and fortune’ isn’t just for the kids.

We all know that Talent Brand isn’t just beneficial to recruiting.  Employers that take care of their Talent Brand are 31% more likely to have engagement from customers.  Customers/leads like to work with companies that are represented by real, live people that are happy with their employer.  They emotionally connect in a positive way and eventually gain trust faster because of it. We all know this… so let’s show them what we are bringing them (even if they think it was all their doing… deep down… they know).

A couple of examples:

  • Show the Google Analytic trends after launching your career or ‘life’ channels – show them the traffic wasn’t just for jobs!
  • Give credit to the ‘volunteer’ army of marketing and recruiting working together in a public forum (it’s hard to ignore or disrespect when someone pays you respect in front of the CEO)
  • Get the big social channels ranked on an award list

Taking 5 baby steps + learning balance = a BIG step!

Remember how we decided at the beginning of this article that the phrase came from somewhere?  From the point that kids start running too fast for their own good? I can remember when my now 10-year-old learned to walk/run.  The first thing he did was to run right into the corner of a wall! The biggest purple/blue vein and bump formed on his head!

Many of us are literally in a place where we ‘don’t want to run our head into the wall.’  I’ve concluded that taking 5 baby steps might not be easy for me but when I learn to do that (without gripping) and also balance or ‘play the game’ I gain…. A BIG STEP!!! AND it isn’t that hard when I do it without gripping.  I figured out that I was the one to blame for getting the ‘bump on the head.’ If I learn to play the game and take the baby steps the next time, I can take a ½ BIG step without causing headaches.

Prove that your learning to walk moves everyone forward!

Use metrics! The minute I’ve been able to prove that being present in social with our employee life and as people through our brand ambassadors increases morale in the company and traffic for the company… everything was ‘ok.’  The trick here is to actually PROVE IT! This can be done in many ways…

Option 1:

Google Analytics…

In the two charts above I could show overall website traffic.  In the top one, the spike was THE DAY we released an article about Employee Experience at our company and highlighted many stories of specific employees and their adventures… If that wasn’t enough the chart below that was the week we released our employee advocacy tool and on Monday and Thursday were specific articles about life as an employee at our company.

Option 2:

Get feedback…

From candidate… Questions like:

  • What was the turning point?
  • What did you research the most?

I’ve done these and I can show that employee stories about real life and researching by networking and word of mouth were the answers of majority every time!

Get feedback…

From your employees!  I think this is so important and we forget about it… track the links you are giving them as options to feed out to their network.  You will figure out really soon which articles resonate with them. Last, and not least, ASK THEM! Recently I launched our ‘Life’ channels and blog with employee stories.  Since I announced it at an all-hands meeting I rarely have a day go by where someone doesn’t catch me to tell me ‘their why’. Employees WANT to tell their story. We all want to have an impact in what we do every day and for most of us, it includes making a difference in others lives in learning from us!  We just have to offer a venue and a format that makes it easy for employees to share (Example: I have 10 questions I send them and have them pick 2-3 to answer). If they are answering them… their feedback is THIS IS WORKING!

Again… I am terrible at taking baby steps however it is imperative to move employment brand forward and for the success of our companies.

I’m working on…

  • Not taking things personally
  • Showing the benefits of walking before running
  • Taking 5 baby steps and gaining balance (play the game)
  • Showcasing data that moves everyone forward!  

We are living in an experience economy.  We ‘sell’ experiences. We have got to get this right and take the baby steps to gain trust and respect in our companies.  I love to run marathons but let’s face it. I need to walk just a few steps in the middle of it. This is not a sprint… this is a marathon, and I’m learning to walk before I run!

About the author: Shaunda Zilich is the Global Talent Brand Manager at Qualtrics and has a passion for everything she does to impact people’s lives positively! She enjoys her career but enjoys life more! She also enjoys helping others turn everyday life into experiences they can ‘write home about’! 

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