Brand champions don’t tend to come with a unified rank. Yes there are the uber brand champions in the C suite of the Branson; Gates and Jobs* guise. But lucky for Richard, Steve and co, brand champions appear at all levels. In my first book, Brand Engagement, I make a particular case for the chief engagement officer or ceo as the pivotal communicator within the modern business. Overwhelmingly, ceos tend to be first line managers.
In a 2009 Bring Yourself 2 Work poll of 1,000 representatives from over 700 companies, they answered the question “Who is the most important internal communicator in your organisation” as follows:
- The Hr Director (2%)
- The Chief Executive (23%)
- My Line Manager (27%)
- My Department Head (48%)
- The Marketing Director (0%)
But when we asked the same people the question “Who is the most useful internal communicator in your organisation”, the results were very different:
- The Hr Director (4%)
- The Chief Executive (12%)
- My Line Manager (57%)
- My Department Head (27%)
- The Marketing Director (0%)
Clearly status and practicality are two very different things.
This shouldn’t come as a great surprise but I wonder how highly employee engagement functions, whether in HR or otherwise, prioritise first line managers in their strategies. The first line manager population are the people who, in modern businesses, are predominantly responsible for connecting the business with the people on a day to day basis. I’ve seen nothing since in the millions of soundbites about god like CEOs and so-called liberating, stand alone, new media, social media and technology to convince me otherwise. Funky technology is fun and is useful if well applied but there’s no substitute for a pulse, voice, nurturing manner and an active, attentive set of ears. Facebook will never replace Facetime.
In an age where process re-engineering has removed layers of leadership and customer relationship managers have been upstaged by call centres; where social media solutions are being touted as communications nirvana and face to face communication is somehow seen as old-fashioned, the everyman first line manager and supervisor has literally never been so important. He/she is the vital link in the chain between the brand promise and the delivery of that promise because they are primarily responsible for engaging the vast majority of the workforce with the core purpose, vision, mission and values of the organisation. Lasting brand engagement doesn’t happen at grandstand events alone.
It’s a fact that the organisation’s people processes, the core engagement channels like performance management; training and development; communication and recruitment thrive or wither away at the line manager’s desk not in the HR department. So what are you doing to identify, liberate, engage and celebrate the achievements of your champions?
*Re-published as a tribute to brand superhero Steve Jobs who sadly passed away today:
Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them,glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
RIP to a crazy one