While touring the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy came across a man holding a broom, obviously a janitor at the facility. President Kennedy veered off from the tour and walked over to the gentleman and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”
With broom proudly in hand, the janitor replied, “Well, Mr. President. I’m helping put a man on the moon.”
This might be the ultimate example of an employee who bought into their organization’s brand mission. For many schools, developing a brand mission is something they don’t often think about. But, in a world where high-quality teachers and staff members are so desperately needed, what if they did? What if schools could generate this same level of buy-in from faculty and staff like NASA clearly did for the janitor who so proudly told JFK he helped put a man on the moon?
The key to unlocking this level of buy-in from employees is engaging your current and future staff members in your school’s brand strategy. What is your brand strategy? And, does it encourage the kind of behaviors that will lead to this type of buy-in?
Many schools make the mistake of presenting who they are and the “why” to employees in a way that doesn’t help them get excited about what they are doing daily. Handing your employees a three-ring binder with 200 organizational information pages during their onboarding process isn’t exciting anyone.
Here are two simple ways to get internal buy-in from your staff:
First, develop an employer value proposition, commonly known as an EVP. An effective employer value proposition should convey external demands, competition, internal reality, and your school’s strategic context. Ultimately, your employer value proposition should show why your school is a great place to work. Part of this is making sure your school is marketing itself to college graduates and other young prospective employees. Schools are too often viewed as old-fashioned, outdated, and outright boring to millennials and Generation Z. The vast majority of millennials believe it’s important for their personal values to be aligned with their employer’s company culture. When done correctly and thoughtfully, developing an employer value proposition will positively impact your retention, offer acceptance rates, and overall recruiting efforts.
Second, develop an employee journey. Whether they’re an instructor or staff member, every employee goes on a journey with their school. The first time they hear about the school to their interview, first day, anniversaries and promotions, and right through to their departure. Each of these stages tells that employee something about your school’s brand. Wouldn’t you like to define how that should happen? One way to start is by asking your current faculty and staff members what worked and what didn’t and developing a map for the ideal employee journey. These conversations might unearth difficult and uncomfortable things to hear but will ultimately make you stronger in the long run if addressed the right way. Perhaps a disappointing onboarding process could be improved by identifying how the first day, week, or month should unfold. Creating a clear process and roadmap that aligns with your brand is a great way to ensure that your people will feel proud to be a part of your school.
Obviously, a clear brand mission can have a lasting impact on employees and will help in the long run with retention of current staff and recruitment of future staff. Does your organization have a defined brand mission that every employee knows? If not, it might be time to work on one.