Brand and Culture Alignment Toolkit https://getbcat.com ALIGN AND INSPIRE Sun, 12 Aug 2018 21:28:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 https://getbcat.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/cropped-Image-PNG-Transparent-Exact-Small-1-32x32.png Brand and Culture Alignment Toolkit https://getbcat.com 32 32 The Powerful Connection Between Alignment and Growth https://getbcat.com/the-powerful-connection-between-alignment-and-growth/ https://getbcat.com/the-powerful-connection-between-alignment-and-growth/#respond Mon, 06 Aug 2018 13:30:40 +0000 https://getbcat.com/?p=7295 Brand and Culture Alignment can be measured and managed to accelerate growth. Over a period of 3 years (2013-2015) we studied 620 people in 64 different organizations – commercial and not-for-profit, media, manufacturing, and professional service delivery –  to confirm that programs like our Brand and Culture Alignment Toolkit (BCAT)...

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Brand and Culture Alignment can be measured and managed to accelerate growth.

Over a period of 3 years (2013-2015) we studied 620 people in 64 different organizations – commercial and not-for-profit, media, manufacturing, and professional service delivery –  to confirm that programs like our Brand and Culture Alignment Toolkit (BCAT) can improve employee engagement. During this period, shortly before and 90-to-180 days after each trial BCAT program, we used Gallup’s Q12 survey to measure the percentage of participants in each group who were engaged or very engaged in their work. This value increased from a pre-trial average of less than 30% to a post-trial average of 66% (see Figure 6 below).

(Here’s how you can try our approach for your team: https://getbcat.com/diy-alignment-exercise/.)

Does a “soft metric” like employee engagement really make a practical difference to business leaders? Gallup’s research indicates that employee engagement positively influences several Key Performance Indicators.

To confirm this for ourselves, we added two columns to our data model:

  • Index of Alignment (IA), a value between 0 and 1 that indicates the degree of Brand and Culture Alignment among the members of a team; and
  • The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) over 2 to 5 years of their organizations’ gross income (revenue for commercial companies and donor/sponsor contributions for NFP’s).

Alignment supports engagement and growth.

We revisited our initial data, merged it with subsequent trials, and found a measurable and manageable relationship between CAGR and Alignment, basing Alignment on a simple principle:

At the heart of every truly effective team, there exists an ideal Role Model (we call this a Role Target) that represents their members’ collective Best Self living their Best Day at work.

Unspoken but very powerful, a team’s Role Target provides an aiming point to measure and manage their members’ degree of Alignment (IA).

We discover the Role Target and calculate the IA of a team by asking a sample of the team’s members, drawn from all organizational levels, an “Incorporating Question:”

Take a moment to visualize your entire team – all of its shared virtues and values, its habits, traditions, tools and methods, everyone of every role and rank – as though it were a single person doing its very best work every day to keep all of your team’s promises and reach all of its goals. What would this ideal “virtual person” be like?

Taken online in about 15 minutes, our BCAT Survey Instrument gathers, quantifies and analyzes the team’s individual responses to this question and plots them as points on a Standard Model of behaviors (Brand) and values (Culture) as illustrated in Figure 1.

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Figure 1.
BCAT Survey Responses Mapped on Standard Model of Brand and Culture
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We calculate IA as a value between 0 and 1 indicating the randomness in the distribution of a team’s responses, as illustrated in Figures 2 (low or more random) and 3 (high or less random).

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Figure 2.
Index of Alignment (IA): 0 ≤ IA ≤ 1 – Represents the Scatter Among Points Plotted on the Standard Model
(In this example IA=~.3 – a low Index of Alignment.)
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Figure 3.
(In this example IA=~.7 – a high Index of Alignment.)
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Supplementing our original research, for a total of 635 BCAT Survey respondents in 53 organizations who reported their CAGR, we found…

  • Evidence of a relationship between employee engagement and CAGR (Figure 4).
Figure 4
Employee Engagement (measured as average %-age of engaged employees per team) and CAGR.
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  • Indications that programs like ours can “move the needle” on employee engagement (Figure 5).
Figure 5
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  • Sufficient evidence (Figure 6) to suggest that improving IA and employee engagement can help improve CAGR. (This hypothesis warrants further long-term study.)
Figure 6
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So, by the numbers, when we align the way we do our work (our Brand) with our passion for the work we do (our Culture), we become more than just good at our jobs. We become excellent.

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Does Your Company Support Its Brand Internally? https://getbcat.com/does-your-company-support-its-brand-internally/ https://getbcat.com/does-your-company-support-its-brand-internally/#respond Mon, 30 Jul 2018 02:23:56 +0000 https://getbcat.com/?p=7119 Companies spend a tremendous amount of money attracting and retaining customers through Branding and marketing. But if your employees don’t “get it,” they will not deliver on your Brand promise. This means you’re wasting precious resources getting customers interested, only to deliver an experience that falls well short of their...

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Companies spend a tremendous amount of money attracting and retaining customers through Branding and marketing.

But if your employees don’t “get it,” they will not deliver on your Brand promise. This means you’re wasting precious resources getting customers interested, only to deliver an experience that falls well short of their expectations.

Up to 40% of an organization’s marketing and communications dollars can be either wasted or destroyed when the internal marketing and communication programs don’t support or align with the external marketing and communication program.

– Juliet Williams, CEO, quoted in Measuring Brand Communications ROI by Don E. Schultz & Jeffrey S. Walter

Have you done enough to build your Brand on the inside?

  1. Can your employees articulate your Brand Promise?
  2. Do your employees know their role in bringing your Brand to life?
  3. Have you identified what a Brand Champion is, and do your employees take appropriate action when they observe policies or procedures that don’t reflect your Brand?
  4. Do you use all of your internal communications tools to reinforce your Brand and recognize employees who are Brand Champions?
  5. Does your internal communication make an emotional connection with your employees?
  6. Is your internal communication program grounded in a single theme that reflects your external Brand message?
  7. Are all your departments engaged in internal Brand communication?
  8. Are your operations, policies and procedures aligned to your Brand?
  9. Is the Brand message “baked -in” to all your training and development tools?
  10. Is being a Brand Champion stated as part of your employees’ job responsibilities?

Most companies answer “No” to these questions because they don’t fully appreciate the connection between Internal Brand and the bottom line.

For more information about how you can drive bottom-line results through a Brand-inspired Culture, contact Mark Iorio at: miorio@themegagroup.com, 609-577-4306.

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Five Principals of Internal Branding https://getbcat.com/five-principals-of-internal-branding/ https://getbcat.com/five-principals-of-internal-branding/#respond Mon, 30 Jul 2018 02:13:16 +0000 https://getbcat.com/?p=7108 Some companies, like Southwest  Airlines and Starbucks, have built their brands internally from day one, and it shows – in their business growth and in their shareholder return.  These companies were created by strong leaders who provided a clear vision and direction to their people from their very first day on the job. But what about established companies? Our...

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Some companies, like Southwest  Airlines and Starbucks, have built their brands internally from day one, and it shows – in their business growth and in their shareholder return.  These companies were created by strong leaders who provided a clear vision and direction to their people from their very first day on the job.

But what about established companies? Our experience proves that any organization can be born again, starting today, by embracing five principles.

1. Internal Brand-building requires leadership from the top.

To building a strong internal Brand, senior managers must visibly commit themselves to spread the word and build support throughout the organization. Senior managers are perfectly positioned to effectuate any changes to policies or operational procedures that may be needed to sustain and strengthen the internal Brand over time.

2. All levels in the Company must participate.

Because every employee is a Brand Ambassador, representatives of all departments and all levels are instrumental in formulating the plan to bring the Brand to life. Internal Brand-building cannot just come from marketing or HR. Rather, it needs to be a cross-functional team that makes it happen. 

Companies like Ritz Carlton have been successful in creating  “Brand teams” whose mission it is to create communication tools and events. Not only does this provide Brand-building that is grounded in the realities of employees’ daily lives,  it makes these key employees internal Brand Ambassadors who then go on to mentor their peers. 

Zappos is second-to-none in building support for a brand at all levels of its organization. From its extensive orientation to ongoing training, to the high expectations managers have for customer service, everything  Zappos does is oriented around creating a “WOW” experience for customers.

3. Strong internal Brands connect the Head with the Heart.

Like any effective corporate communication, the best internal Brand-building programs make the connection between the heads and the hearts of employees. Not only must the brand be true to the organization’s values, it should build off the company heritage and remind employees why they are proud to represent the Brand. An emotional connection is critical to helping employees live the brand. At their best, with heads and hearts engaged, your employees will become your biggest advocates. Without that engagement,  they can actually work against your Brand.

4. Communicate! A million and one ways.

You must reinforce your brand message at every possible opportunity.  From orientation and training to employee newsletters and your intranet, to regular staff meetings and special events, every point of contact with your employees is an opportunity to engage them in support of the Brand. The best companies share information and invest in the tools and technology to make communication simple and timely. Create enjoyable yet informative ways to communicate—it will pay off!

5. Bake your internal Brand into your performance and appraisal tools.

It’s one thing to say that your employees are your Brand. It’s another to make being Brand Ambassadors part of their job. Yet, successful companies clearly connect employee behavior in this area with their performance and appraisal tools. Brand champions should be rewarded, and those not engaged must be brought along through coaching, peer-to-peer mentoring or other methods. Job descriptions  and appraisal tools must have the  brand message “baked in.” 

Never underestimate the power of recognition in building the Brand within the company. Through your internal communication tools, publicize the positive  actions of your employees to inspire  others to “Live the Brand.”

For more information on how you can effectively Align your Brand and Culture, contact Mark Iorio: 609-577-4306, miorio@themegagroup.com

 

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Forming Effective Organizations Takes PEOPLEWORK, not Paperwork https://getbcat.com/forming-effective-organizations-takes-peoplework-not-paperwork/ https://getbcat.com/forming-effective-organizations-takes-peoplework-not-paperwork/#respond Sun, 29 Jul 2018 15:57:58 +0000 https://getbcat.com/?p=7065 Forming effective organizations takes peoplework, not paperwork.

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BCAT Standard Model of Brand and Culture
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Brand and Culture are two faces of the same mountain.

Creating a company? You know the drill: you retain an attorney, you call an accountant, you hire a logo designer… done, done, and done. Hundreds of thousands of visionary Founders and Partners perform this ritual every month, but barely half survive five years and only a third make it to their tenth anniversary (from various sources; here’s a good place to start).

Very, very few ever achieve that enviable hallmark of genuine incorporation, the creation of a compelling and enduring Brand aligned with an inspiring and motivating Culture.

Without an aligned Brand and Culture, and no matter how much you may pay them, your people think and behave as individuals, each prioritizing their own personal needs and ambitions, far less likely to help your organization become competitive than to compete with each other for their position within it.

People don’t follow people. They follow what people follow.

On the other hand, when people rally around keeping your Brand’s promises and share in the values and aspirations of your Culture, they become an Incorporated Person. They communicate more openly, collaborate more willingly, and innovate more courageously. They act as a unit, supporting your mission rather than fighting with each other – and all this without lawyers, accountants, or even a logo.

When we align the way we do our work (our Brand) with our passion for the work we do (our Culture) we become more than just good at our jobs. We become excellent.

Time for a new incorporation ritual.

An earlier post describes a five-step incorporation method that you can perform with your people to align them with your Brand and Culture. It’s based on what we call the Incorporating Question.

“If our whole organization – its founders, leaders, workers, everyone in it, all of its methods, all of its tools, all of it – were a single ‘virtual person’ doing its best work on its best day, keeping all of its promises and delivering its best results, what would that ideal person be like?”

Everyone (leaders, managers, employees, stakeholders, everyone) in the organization participates in this simple but powerful exercise by offering what they see as the attributes that represent their team’s Best Self, living its Best Day at work. As their inventory of ideal attributes grows, a profile emerges of their shared Role Model.

We’ve performed this exercise dozens of times, in various forms, for thousands of participants at every level within for- and non-profit businesses, public and private schools, and volunteer organizations. Our analysis of the hundreds of attributes we’ve gathered shows that they describe four basic organizational Role Models.

The Expert values accuracy, thinks linearly and objectively, and seeks deep knowledge in a particular, relatively narrow field of study. They’re known for taking measurements, gathering facts, offering long, detailed explanations, and for earning (if not necessarily displaying) academic credentials and professional certifications.

The Driver has a bias for action. Drivers value arguing to a conclusion, defining milestones and setting deadlines, and checking things off their “to-do” lists… which, along with their bullet-pointed communication style, skill at steering a conversation into an actionable plan, and careful attention to schedules makes them easy to recognize.

The Creator likes to keep their options open and is always discovering new things to do and new ways to do them. Creators value the element of surprise, multi-tasking, and making a strong impression on others. They’re known for their flashy graphical presentations, engaging communication style, use of humor to get peoples’ attention, and their occasional antics.

The Caretaker is a traditional rule-follower and a steady, diligent worker. The Culture of the Caretaker respects others’ needs and concerns, likes to maintain positive professional relationships, and values fairness and consistency. Caretakers express their Brand in their friendly communication style, by doing things methodically and competently both individually and in teams, by carefully following accepted procedures and proven checklists, and by patiently seeking broad consensus rather than rapid closure in meetings.

Basic Organizational Role Models
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Role Target: A specific combination of four Role Models.

Every organization possesses attributes of all four Role Models, but in different amounts. Our method for surveying an organization’s ideal pattern of behavior (the attributes we collect when we ask a company, department, or team the Incorporating Question) and our system for associating and counting the answers (the attributes in our list that correspond to our four elemental Role Models) makes measuring an organization’s signature Brand and Culture straightforward:

  1. Gather all the attributes the members of your team can think of in answering the Incorporating Question.
  2. For each of our four elemental Role Models, count the number of corresponding attributes.
  3. Rank the four Role Models in descending order by the number of attributes corresponding to each.
  4. The result: your team’s Role Target: the ideal pattern of positive behaviors, values, and attitudes that best expresses its Brand and Culture. All four ranked elements are important, but particularly the top two:

Positive Cultures make powerful brands.

Measuring and mapping your organization’s Role Target helps you in three ways:

  1. Your mapped Role Target provides a focus of self-improvement for your organization’s members. Leaders and individual contributors, senior and junior members, everyone can become better by modeling themselves after his or her organization’s Role Target.
  2. Your Role Target offers guidelines for verbal and graphical expression in presentations, marketing materials, and social media posts that reinforce rather than undermine your organization’s Brand and Culture. We’ll explore this more fully in future posts.
  3. By graphically revealing the gaps among the Role Targets returned by separately surveying your team’s leaders, individual contributors, board members, and customers, the BCAT Standard Model of Brand and Culture provides you with a way to determine whether your Brand and Culture are aligned and serves as the starting point for improving that alignment.

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A DIY Alignment Exercise to Re-Boot and Re-Align Any Team https://getbcat.com/diy-alignment-exercise/ https://getbcat.com/diy-alignment-exercise/#comments Mon, 23 Jul 2018 13:05:17 +0000 https://getbcat.com/?p=6903 Every now and then, even the best teams get stuck. As your crew shifts from “we” to “me,” personal differences surface, pointless arguments erupt, and progress grinds to a halt. We’ve all been there. So, you call a meeting. But what do you talk about? As always, of course, you...

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Every now and then, even the best teams get stuck. As your crew shifts from “we” to “me,” personal differences surface, pointless arguments erupt, and progress grinds to a halt. We’ve all been there.

So, you call a meeting. But what do you talk about? As always, of course, you talk about the work. You drill down the long list of unreached goals, unfinished tasks, and unresolved issues.

And then, you take that dreaded shame-and-blame trip around the room. “Where are we on this, Lisa?” “How are we doing on that, Bob?” Brutal. Feels like waterboarding. Very de-motivating. Not at all helpful.

“Same time next week, everyone?” <Groan>

Next meeting, instead of talking about the work, try talking about your team.

An Innovative Way to Start Fresh

At the heart of every successful team, there exists a positive role model that represents its best self, living its best day at work.

Proudly aligned with this role model of ideal behavior, the members of effective teams communicate openly, collaborate willingly, and innovate fearlessly in ardent pursuit of their shared goals. Instead of “me,” successful teams are all about “we.”

You can shift your team from me to we and re-engage them in their shared goals. It’s easy, it doesn’t take long, and even the most hard-nosed, by-the-book, non-touchy-feely boss can do it in just five steps.

Step 1: Call a special Re-Boot and Re-Alignment Meeting. Allow about 2 hours for it, but it probably won’t take that long. Be sure to include everyone – consultants, contractors, employees, admins, everyone – up to about 15 participants max per meeting.

A day or two ahead of time, pose the Incorporating Question, one that speaks to the heart and soul of every team:

If our entire team – everyone, its processes and traditions, its skills and tools, all of it – were just a single “virtual person” doing its best work on its best day to keep its promises and deliver its best results, what would that person be like?

Ask everyone to draft a short list of 5 to 10 attributes that describe this ideal “virtual person.” Suggest that they work on this individually, without comparing notes with each other.

What’s an attribute? For our purposes, attributes are salient behavioral features of role models – in other words, the great things role models do that make them role models.

If your team’s a support group, your people will probably come up with attributes like “respectful” and “compassionate.” If your team’s into quality control, they’ll likely identify attributes like “meticulous” and “analytical.”

Do this exercise yourself, too. Be a participant in this meeting, not just the facilitator or leader.

Step 2: At the beginning of your Reboot and Realignment meeting, write the Incorporating Question prominently on a marker board or flip chart and start a list under the heading “Attributes.” Ask everyone to begin sharing the attributes they’ve come up with, one attribute at a time.

  • Smile. Be patient. Encourage everyone to participate; don’t play favorites. The members of “stuck” teams can be wary and defensive, reluctant to step up. It may take a while for people to realize there’s no risk here and settle into the exercise. Break the ice by starting the list of attributes off with one or two of your own.
  • Many won’t have done their “homework.” Keep smiling. No judging, no problem. They’ll catch up as the attributes begin to flow and your list grows.
  • Less is definitely more. As each new attribute is offered, check the list to see if it’s a synonym for a previously offered attribute. Work with everyone to come up with a well-curated list of unique role model attributes.

Step 3. Start at the top of your list of attributes. For each:

  • Ask everyone to offer one or two things that people with that attribute consistently do. For example, “respectful” people clearly acknowledge others’ contributions by sincerely thanking them verbally and sending supportive emails.
  • Ask everyone to offer one or two things that people with that attribute don’t do. Same example: “respectful” people don’t look down their noses and ridicule others’ ideas, and they don’t gossip behind their colleagues’ backs.
  • Participate in this. Here and there, offer a few dos and don’ts of your own.

In response to your Incorporating Question, you now have a list with three columns:

  • The attributes of your team’s ideal role model, the “virtual person” who represents your team’s best self on its best day.
  • For each attribute, one or two observable positive behaviors to be emulated, and one or two observable negative behaviors to be avoided.

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Step 4. Allow about 20 to 30 minutes for everyone to write a Personal Alignment Plan: a list of two or three things about themselves, each associated with one of the attributes on your team’s list, that he or she can comfortably commit to changing in order to become more aligned with your teams’ ideal role model.

Typically, most will pattern their Personal Alignment Plans after the items on your list of do’s and dont’s. You may be surprised, however, by how many come up with their own creative and heartfelt ideas for commitments. Keep in mind, People don’t resist change; they resist being changed. There’s just enough structure in a Reboot and Realignment Meeting to keep the conversation about self-improvement on track without giving people the uncomfortable feeling that they’re being herded and manipulated.

Lead by example. Participate in this. Write your own Personal Alignment Plan. Aligned with the attributes on your list, identify things that you intend to start or stop doing in order to become a better leader, colleague, or contributor on your team.

Step 5. Allow everyone a minute or so to talk about one or two of the commitments they made in their Personal Alignment Plans. Start the conversation by talking about a few of yours.

  • This meeting is a safe space, no judging, no scoffing. A little humor is OK, as long as the laughing is always with and never at someone. People are free to choose to keep some of their commitments to themselves. They can pass and not share anything at all.
  • Suggest informal accountability partnerships, i.e., pairs of peers who will help each other keep to their plans.

Seriously. This Exercise Works.

In developing and refining this approach within our Brand and Culture Alignment Toolkit (BCAT), working with more than 1500 participants in numerous groups of all kinds and sizes, we’ve seen this exercise double a team’s engagement in their collective efforts. The overwhelming majority (almost 100%) of participants report that they saw value and enjoyed the experience. And, in follow-up interviews, nearly 60% reported that they felt they were making progress and sticking with their Personal Alignment Plans. (Compare that with barely 5% or so of employees who typically report that their company’s traditional periodic Performance Review process has any kind of positive impact on their work lives.)

For Extra Credit.

Keep the Alignment conversation going by repeating this exercise. Build future meetings around discussions about alignment with specific attributes, or talk about progress and issues your team members may be experienced as they follow their Personal Alignment Plans. Incorporate your team’s Personal Alignment Plans in future one-on-one performance reviews and coaching sessions.

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