Of all the misunderstood concepts in HR fuckville, Employer Branding has to hit the spot as nombre uno. I’ll admit that in my own career I’ve dallied with the concept and probably got the wrong end of the stick on more than one occasion (no sado masochistic innuendos intended) but that was almost a decade ago…..so why are HR people still getting it wrong now?
To illustrate a point, let me take you back to your teenage years….for some of us that is a longer journey than others, so if you’re struggling I suggest watching an episode of Glee for helpful hints (and not High School Musical!). You remember the anxiety, the lack of identity, the needing to conform, but wanting not to conform, to be one of the crowd but also to stand out. You remember the people who you wanted to like you and the people you wanted to like. The changes in image, the trends, the haircuts, the clothes…..
Now think back to how you feel about that time period now. Think how you feel if you look at photographs of yourself as a teenager. There is a sense of embarrassment no? Because now you know who you are. You are confident and assured and happy with your lot. You might not be the coolest, maybe not the fittest, you might have a few extra pounds, a lump here or there…..but you’re you right?
Now think about your organisation. You will never be Apple, you will never be Google or any other über brand that you choose to pick (just for the record, my organisation kicked their arses in a recent survey…which was a bit weird but also may suggest that they ain’t “all that”). But you can be happy and self-confident in who you are. Just like at school, you can’t make yourself cool….you either are or you’re not. You can’t make yourself in with the in-crowd, if you’re a geek then be proud.
Whilst I am sure there are a lot of good consultancies out there, there are also a lot of charlatans. Similar to the endless TV programmes telling you to eat yourself thin, or make your hair fat, or your clothes slim or your teeth wide – or whatever crap they are currently espousing. There are also a lot of suppliers thinking that they have the silver bullet to improving your brand. Wanna know a secret? They don’t. But they do have the answer to how they are going to pay their next bills.
Put simply, in most cases your brand isn’t a problem. Because it is the essence of who you are and if you want to change that, you need a hell of a lot more time and investment and probably an imperative driven from a crisis situation. You might want the organisational equivalent of a hair cut, to go the gym a little, to buy a few new clothes….but that is just evolving who you are and you don’t need someone else to tell you that.
Put simply, there are a lot of people out there that look like you, feel like you and want to work for you. And there are a lot of people who try to make a living out of telling you that isn’t the case. Just like in your personal life, be content, be happy and most importantly be yourself. The rest will then come naturally.