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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Internal Branding: Promise Less

Mine!
Photo by OakleyOriginals via Flickr

In "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" an Australian who has discovered the health benefits of juicing crisscrosses the U.S. to evangelize.

He stops at a diner and talks to two fellow middle-aged men and a teen. They are eating as they talk.

One of the other men says that health food is irrelevant to him. Adding more years to his already lousy life - and losing out on good food - is just not that appetizing.

Was he unhappy because of his personal life or his job? Who knows if one can even separate them.

Once a few years ago I met my aunt for lunch. She is a psychologist and had treated some people suffering from post-traumatic work stress disorder. she told me: People vastly underestimate how a bad work environment affects one's personal life and ability to function.

Based on what I see, hear and read, workplace cultures are a lot like families and farms: They need active and ongoing intervention to fix and maintain.

Internal branding is thus much more difficult than external branding:

1. People tend to think of it superficially - literally as logos or taglines or email signatures. So it is a challenge to get them to see that these things are just the tip of the iceberg.

2. People tend to act badly toward one another at work. That is just a fact. And too often these bullies are not only feared, but also promoted.

3. People tend not to take workplace culture seriously until there is a crisis.

When Adam, at Eve's prompting, ate from the Tree of Knowledge, God punished both of them. Adam's foretold suffering involved work specifically:

"By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread." (See Genesis 3:17-19)

Gradually God is lifting this sentence and humanity is becoming enlightened: Work success need not mean killing ourselves or each other. Just the opposite.

In the meantime though it seems foolish to set employee expectations very high.

Branding equals making a promise and then keeping it, even when it's hard.

So say what you mean, and then stick to it.

Good luck!