Build a Better Team: Employee Acquisition & Retention with Company Branding

Posted by Katie Del Angel on Fri, May 21, 2010
Dwight Schrute - Best Employee EverAre resumes pouring into your company from talented, passionate individuals? Do you often have trouble deciding between a handful of highly-qualified professionals that you just know would fit right in with the team?

If not, this morning's event provided some food for thought on why the applicant pool may seem a bit dry. Chris Colbert of Holland-Mark opened the event by asking the panelists what company branding means to each of them. Kim Wachter of Hollister shared that she won't send her best candidates, or any candidates for that matter, to companies she knows they won't want to work with; she emphasized that companies must remember they are selling to people and they are selling to candidates as well.

Ginny Churchill mentioned that internal brand is extremely important and must come from the top, and then turn outward. For example, Communispace saw a huge influx of resumes once they revamped their external brand. By starting their company with strong values, Diane Hessan (their CEO) was able to instill a vibrant company culture from the get-go, which enabled them all to represent their true brand to the world in an organic, genuine way that applicants are drawn to.

Steve Mooney explained that internal and external brands don't have to be married, though - they can be cousins, but in reality all you have control over is your internal brand. The internal brand serves as a guide for what people perceive as your brand, but only a guide, since perceptions will change frequently. He diagrammed his point that external brand is guided by experiences people have with the brand - somewhat like this:
Brand Experience Diagram
which sparked the question from Chris: Can you make a bad brand good? Bridget Diorio automatically said yes, and Ginny elaborated that it MUST be done from the top, needs to be consistent, and have total commitment from the team. Bridget also noted that surveys are a useful method to gauge satisfaction within the company, and find areas of improvement.

When asked by an audience member about what can be done to deal with increased transparency, on the web specifically -- such as GlassDoor -- Ginny shared a mantra of Communispace's: "We are what we say we are". By remaining true to their outter image, the company maintains internal relationships and ultimately counters any would-be negative reviews from employees and customers alike. Steve summarized, to put it simply, get more positive stuff out there.

The topic of interviewing eventually came up, which Steve blatantly says most people suck at. But as Ginny pointed out, building a great team means you need to truly make sure it's a good match between skills and responsibilities, so it's very important. Steve then clarified that making sure to really listen is the main way to do so, which can be done best by having multiple people interview the candidates. Kim's comment that having a well-written job description is critical to get those candidates through the door especially resonated.

On retaining employees, the panel had a few best practices. Ginny noted focusing on the culture rather than policies was key; people will get work done, just allow them flexibility. As Steve mentioned, productive people will be productive regardless of social media. In Bridget's experience, she explained that Gen Y-ers love feedback often, and recognition for their work. One final point that Steve made was being sure to ask people how they want to be recognized, which can go a long way.

If you missed the event, you can watch each of the panelists explain their key take-aways and branding perspectives in their interview clips here.

So what does branding mean in your company? How do you tie together your internal and external brands?