Expose Yourself – All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

Marisa Keegan Audacious Ideas, Culture, Employment Branding and Culture, Marisa Keegan

When talking about corporate culture and employee engagement Facebook, SAS, and Zappo’s receive a lot of press. And they deserve it for two reasons: They’re cool and they are exposing themselves.

If your company isn’t cool that’s okay. Not every company can be the cool kid and, let's face it, lots of companies don’t want to be that kid anyway. It just doesn’t make sense for their business and their success doesn’t depend on the cool factor.

But every company wants to have more engaged employees, employees who are passionate, motivated, and so excited to do their jobs that it makes being a manager and leader seem easy.

Stop trying to force a culture and start trying to expose the one you already have. The companies I mentioned above are recognized as being awesome places to work because they’ve done a bit of bragging about everything from their history to their successes with customers and even the failures they’ve had. This storytelling/bragging/legacy writing has given employees, customers, and their national audience a way to form an emotional connection to the history and future of the company. That connection creates loyalty, passion, and engagement.

Four ways to expose your story:

  • Find someone in your organization, or a consultant who focuses on creating a corporate legacy, and ask them to begin the documentation process.
  • Write down the story of your company’s origin.

    At one company I worked for every employee knew that we started out as three guys in a basement struggling to keep the electricity on long enough to bring on a few more customers. It made employees feel good about the company knowing how far we’d come.

  • Find two examples of employees doing awesome things and document the stories. Make them pretty, edit them, and make sure the take-away message is easy to understand. Zappo’s has a now famous story about a customer service rep that sent flowers to a customer when he found out her mother passed away. That story tells customers, “we care” and employees “we expect that in the future you will go out of your way to show our customers that we care”. Bam. All that in a little, well thought out, story. Of course, you need more than two but two is a good starting point.
  • Find a system for telling your employees about your story. If you have a company meeting once a month, pick a new story to tell at each event. Don’t start out by saying, “Its corporate story telling time”. Simply find a story about your company history, customers, etc that ties into the message you are already delivering and mix it in there. Believe me, every good presentation starts with a great story.

Does your company already use storytelling to create brand loyalty or employee engagement? Let's chat  in the comments about your approach…