Companies spend billions trying to create compelling brands. Jello. Kleenex. Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. People have brands, too, and as a manager you surely have a brand in the eyes of your employees. Whether you know it or not.
I recently went to my official, well organized digital card storage file (actually, a pile of business cards in an Altoids tin) and I randomly grabbed five. I wrote down the first word that came to mind for each person:
He is an insurance sales guy who continually calls me, despite the fact that I’ve told him to stop. He just doesn’t get it. Or worse, he probably doesn’t care. I would go out of my way to un-refer him.
My former boss; a guy I’ve worked for twice. Great guy, great character, brilliant, handsome and a terrific leader. (Not necessarily in that order).
Beth is the most talented salesperson I’ve ever met. She has it all: a love of people, great marketing know-how, original ideas and impressive follow through.
This CEO doesn’t get it. He orders people around, criticizes “just because he can” and although he means well, he causes eyeballs to roll and heads to shake in every meeting he runs.
A company founder who has great intentions but can’t take a lick of feedback if it doesn’t agree with her point of view.
Ouch. They surely wouldn’t want to be labeled with just one word, but branding is funny that way. One word can nail it. So what is your brand, according to your team? Even if you think you know, are you willing to really find out?
I recommend that you use one of the 360 assessment tools, widely available online. Or, use a free Web-based survey tool. Or, your management team can participate together in a “What’s My Brand?” exercise. Regardless of how you do it, it’s important to learn from your employees what you do well – and poorly – and how they really perceive you.
Once you know, you can develop an authentic management style that utilizes your strengths. One way to start is to clearly let people know what to expect when they work for you:
You’ll always know where you stand with me.
You can count on me to meet with you once a week, one to one.
I believe in a fun workplace, and here’s how we’ll do it.
I will invest time and money on learning and training for all of us.
We will give one another feedback formally, at least once a month.
Brand X is generic.
Instead, you can decide to be the Hellman’s Mayonnaise of management (my very favorite brand)…special, delicious and way better than all the others.