Are You A Brand At Your Workplace?
Prakash (name changed) works in a leading coffee chain as a deputy manager. He works at the corporate office which is located in a metro city. However, for the past 6 months, he has been asking for a transfer to another team, to a smaller outlet in the other corner of the city. He’s willing to travel the distance on a daily basis and asks for no extra remuneration or conveyance.
When he was asked for the reason for this request for transfer, he stated that Smita (name changed), the senior manager at the outlet is insightful and active when it comes to employee engagement-related activities. He often hears about that particular outlet having the highest number of employee-related activities as compared to other outlets. The employee attrition rate of that oulet is also almost negligible. The outlet manages to get good reviews from customers as well because of the pleasant nature of the employees. The Area Manager would often attribute this as an outcome of the senior manager Smita’s efforts and Prakash wanted to learn this. He wanted to be a part of this successful team even if it caused him a bit of inconvenience.
What you just read is a perfect example of how personal branding can inspire employees.
Smita not only did a great job at her outlet, but also managed to, knowingly or unknowingly build her personal brand in a way that others like Prakash would look up to her as an example and be inspired. When I think about it, I strongly feel that this is the crux of leadership – being an inspiration to another without force.
You may be doing all the right things to be a good leader but success is largely dependent on how well you brand yourself. Yes, you read it right. Your image and personal branding are as important (if not more) as your company. There’s an argument I often get to hear. Is personal branding still important if the work is getting done? My answer has always been a big YES. Whether you like it or not, you are known for certain attributes and these attributes then become your brand. Managers are always known by different names. The workpoholic, the traditional, the scary one, the micromanager, the control freak, the nitpicker, the perfectionist are just a few examples. Irrespective of their role or designation, every such manager or team leader is a brand.
Just like in case of the company culture, if you don’t invest time to build your culture, it form by itself. And what the culture becomes may not always be what you like. Personal branding is very similar. The idea is to take the reins of your personal branding in your own hands and build a personal brand that you want to be, rather than let it build itself.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is quite similar to your company branding except that here you brand yourself and your career instead. The onus completely lies on you as to how you self-package yourself while interacting with others in person or on digital mediums. Based on this, people internally and externally establish an opinion or an image about you in their mind. It is this very image and the impression you make and more importantly maintain lies their decision of whether or not they like to work with you and the company.
Employees across teams, departments, and business verticals look up to team leads as individuals who can help them solve problems. However, imagine if there’s a major mismatch in this image of the ‘leader’ and the ‘leaders personality’. What do you think is likely to happen? For example, you buy an expensive HD TV only to realise that the video quality is poor and images on the screen appear grainy. I’m guessing the impulsive thought would be to give back this brand and exchange it for a better TV brand. Just like any product, managers also have to work towards building a strong personal brand and make an effort to deliver the brand promise consistently.
How does this work?
Employees are either approached, hired, retained, valued, or even fired on the basis of their qualities and attributes which they portray and ‘sell’. These qualities include creativity, problem-solving, effective communication, networking, interpersonal skills along with other academic qualifications they may have. Unless your team members know what you are made of, their trust in you would always be with a pinch of salt. Comedian Steve Martin puts it as being so good that others can’t ignore you.
The human mind is built to respond to stimulus. You constantly need to step up your pace, brand and quality of your efforts if you wish to attain a competitive edge in team management. If you possess a positive brand image, your team is more likely to consider you as a person who is trustworthy and reliable, because of the value you add through your presence.
There’s another very compelling reason too why you should consciously focus on personal branding. An employee is usually a reflection of their immediate manager. They behave in a way their immediate managers behave. Not because they are taught to do so, but because learning by observation is the most basic and subconscious way of learning.
Benefits of personal branding
• Creates a strong base for the team
Having an established personal brand will help you create a strong base for the growth of your team. It is on the basis of your name, identity and reputation that people would decide if they want to work with you. Jobs and roles usually remain the same; it’s the people that change when an employee changes a job. Part of what attracts him/her is also your personal brand reviews that other employees share. Just like in the previous example, employees like Prakash, either from within or outside the organisation can always be influenced by you. It also serves as a motivation for those in the team that their leader is not just one who assigns work but a charismatic performer they can look up to and aim to be.
• Sets benchmarks through exemplary conduct
A deeper understanding about yourself, your worth, your skills and abilities can help you harness the potential within you. These act as morale boosters which help you significantly in impacting your company’s growth and profitability prospects. Your reputation becomes the yardstick for new employees. Simple acts could become benchmarks, such as greeting every member personally in the morning or checking on how they are feeling at the end of the day and addressing any concerns just so you leave people with a positive feel no matter how hard a day it may seem. Based on your conduct the other employees model behaviours and attitudes so be sure to give them your best always.
• Provides Influencer advantage
Another way of looking at this is by way of being an influencer yourself. Your influencer marketing credibility and choices determine how people respond to the things you endorse. It directly correlates to your company’s products and/or services too. The bigger influencer your personal brand is, the greater benefit your company gets to reap. This is most essential for effective recruitment as well as retention. Your influencer reputation also seems to tip the scales towards a better resolution during conflicts too. Hence, work towards maintaining this influencer advantage that you can leverage.
Personal Branding does not mean that you shout your name louder so that people can hear and know you. But it is about proving yourself as an expert in your niche by developing your skills and abilities enough. You just need to come forward to help others with the knowledge, skills and abilities you possess, irrespective of the medium you choose.
The endgame in creating and maintaining a personal brand is about how you engage with people around you. Not only will it help you internally but will go a long way in building key external relations for your company too.
At Yellow Spark, we understand the value of high productivity and know that effective team management is the key to its success. Want to approach team management strategically or build a strong HR brand, write to us firstname.lastname@example.org to know more.
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.