Jeff Smith

The Internal Brand Starts With The External Brand

Your external brand or consumer brand, lives in a competitive environment alongside thousands of other brands. In order to stand out among the competition, brands do their best to differentiate themselves from others while remaining consistent – same logo, same colors, same fonts.

Internal communications departments often use their external branding for emails, the intranet, digital signage, and the like. Internally, your communications aren’t seen in rotation with other brands. Your audience can tire of the same thing over and over because there are no other brands working in the space to break up that experience. Oversaturating your internal communications with your external brand will eventually make your efforts invisible to the workforce.

Leverage your internal brand to create a more engaging experience by developing an internal brand. By expanding and building upon your external brand, a unique branding will emerge that employees already recognize. Not only will a fresh and expansive internal brand renew their desire to be engaged with, but it also acts as a cue for them to know that those communications are meant for them only.

We suggest developing your internal brand by creating the following:

  • Employer brand rallying cry
  • Adding additional colors to the existing brand palette
  • Design motif for backgrounds and other uses
  • Building a library of original employee photography

The internal brand should be authentic, genuine, and support the external brand. A good internal brand can transform your internal communications and create a better experience for your employees.

Need help with an internal brand? Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

3 Tips for a Successful Culture Magazine

Culture magazines are a great resource for communicating across a multitude of functions and geography. Internal magazines are opportunities to bridge silos, create shared pride and boost recognition, all of which contribute to higher employee engagement.

At Tribe, we’ve created culture magazines for clients across industries ranging from consumer products to aviation to fashion. Especially in manufacturing, retail and other non-desk populations, magazines enable the company to make these frontline employees visible and even recognized as heroes throughout the organization.

Often produced as a quarterly publication, culture magazines don’t have to be a daunting or budget-busting. Here are three simple tips to keep your magazine on track.

  1. Develop an editorial plan. Establishing reoccurring topics and themes for each issue will take a load off the planning process at the beginning of each issue. Think through your messaging and communication goals for the publication, and be sure to work each of them into the plan. Allow for flexibility by including a feature story, but we would recommend at least three basics, like employee spotlights, leadership Q&A or wellness and volunteerism updates.
  1. Appoint an editorial board. This simple task has been a life-saver in ongoing magazines Tribe has produced in the past. At the start of each new issue, gather your established team composed of people from across different segments of the organization. All it takes is one organized conference call to discuss potential stories and features for the upcoming issue. By the time the call ends, you should have your identified editorial plan for the next issue, and the correct contacts to start producing the content.
  1. Keep revisions to a minimum. For best, and most efficient results, collaborate on the front end of the magazine, not the back end. A large part of this helpful hint is cutting down on the number of reviewers themselves. Once the articles are written and the issue is put into design, keep the circle as tight as possible. Multiple rounds of revisions can do damage to your timeline, and as a result, impact the budget.

Interested in developing a culture magazine? Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

Three easy ways to improve your intranet

Your company’s intranet should be a reflection of its culture. Culture is not only about your mission, vision, values, logo and formal rituals, but it also includes employee beliefs about the company, myths and ancillary symbols that develop over time. Reviewing your intranet should shed some light on the intangible areas of your company’s culture. Analyzing your site doesn’t need to be a formal process, but by taking some time and reviewing a few basic elements, you will also gain a better understanding of your culture.

1. Site design should be reflective of your external brand and your desired internal culture.  Look at the design element of your internet and intranet.  Are they of the same quality? Do they look similar?  Does it appear that the company invested in both? Does your intranet reflect your desired culture in terms of being fun or potentially a more formal culture? If the answer to some of these questions is no, it may be a good time to improve the design.

2. If work/life balance is something your company values, give employees the opportunity to share information about their personality on the site. Rich employee profiles are a great way for employees to connect on a more personal level and improve their working relationships with co-workers. The underlying message that employees will receive is that the company cares about them as individuals, not just for the skill set they bring to the company.

3. Review your values, culture attributes and other brand elements to see if they are reflected in the site. Your intranet is a great tool to communicate and sustain elements of your brand, which in turn help develop your culture.  Look for interactive ways such as spotlighting employees that live your values or promoting events on the site that help build camaraderie.

Do you have other ideas of how to analyze your intranet for insights on your culture?  Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

4 Ways to Increase Engagement Through Employee Recognition

HiResEngaged employees are more likely to know that their role contributes to the overall success of the organization. When it comes to instilling that message throughout the company, Tribe often recommends a rewards and recognition program. From dedicated website portals, to a verbal “thank you,” there are many effective methods to increase confidence and morale through acknowledgment. Sometimes the smallest thing someone does can make the biggest difference for someone else.

  1. Verbally recognize standout employees during a regular meeting. Rewarding employees in front of their peers puts a little extra oomph in fostering pride. Schedule a few minutes into the agenda of your weekly or monthly meeting to spotlight an individual who deserves it.
  1. Establish a recognition item that can be passed on to others. The actual item can be determined by your culture – at Tribe we use a large jar – but the concept stays the same. Starting with the team leader, give it to someone who’s gone above and beyond. That person will keep the item for a month or quarter, and then pass it on to someone else on the team that deserves the spotlight for their accomplishments. It is important to let them know why they’re receiving the item, to set a standard for a job well done.
  1. Provide a sought-after treat to recognize employees’ contributions. This could be as simple as a quarterly breakfast with leadership, or a small gift or collectable token. The ability to attend an exclusive event or receive a keepsake can go a long way to make employees feel appreciated.
  1. Spotlight outstanding employees with a story of their accomplishments. Consider establishing an “employee of the month” program or a spotlight section in your newsletter or internal publication. Not only will it make that employee feel recognized for their contributions, but it will allow other employees to read why that person was selected and set their sights on how to be nominated in the future. It was also serve as a great reminder of your organization’s best practices.

Interested in developing a rewards and recognition program? Tribe can help.

Stephen Burns

How do you determine your company’s culture?

In an ideal world, your company’s culture stems and grows organically from day one. It’s a grassroots force that spreads from employee to employee, that continues to grow and evolve to support your business.

But often, companies grow rapidly and culture gets lost in the hurried pace of business. Culture takes time to resonate with people. If a company is opening offices and acquiring new partners, especially globally, it can be hard to unite employees under a common culture.

Companies need to evaluate their culture in order to connect with employees. Elements of cultures are undoubtedly growing amongst employees. Your company can really gain an advantage from uniting what is already out there. From a cohesive culture, employees can communicate easier and more effectively. It also helps to ground your business and lets employees understand both your company purpose and their personal purpose within your company.

Here are three steps from Tribe to help discover what makes your company culture tick.

1) Leadership Interviews

Start at the top, by sitting down with members of the leadership team to discuss where they would like their culture to be. Ask about their vision for the organization, as well as their mission and values. Get them to talk about their one-year or five-year goals for the business. You can’t develop a communications plan to align employees with the vision if you don’t understand what that vision looks like.

2) Employee Interviews or Focus Groups

This can be done one on one, either in person or by phone, or in group sessions, although like any focus group, one strong personality can dominate the discussion without a skilled moderator to foster more inclusion. For a representative sample, make sure you’re including employees of different business units, geography, seniority, gender, ethnicity and from functions that cover the gamut from sales to enterprise services to manufacturing or the frontline. This is a time consuming stage, but will provide some of the most critical insights for strategic development.

3) Employee Survey

Surveys allow you to quantify the themes and issues you’ve uncovered in the qualitative stages of Discovery and to gather more general cultural statistics about the employee population. The most useful surveys are structured in ways that allow for a close look at the cultural differences between business units and other silos, geography and demographics. An effective cadence for a comprehensive survey is once or twice a year. Including a number of open-ended questions helps ferret out the intention behind the responses. But keep in mind that it’s important to build in an appropriate level of anonymity so that employees feel safe in answering openly. For a couple of reasons, employee surveys should be fielded regularly. First, these are important tools that measure changes or improvements and allow leaders to understand what’s going on inside the company. Second, if surveys only occur in the midst of major change, lots of angst and negative energy can become associated with an otherwise helpful tool.

Stephen Burns

Communicating your vision to employees

True success as a company comes when you can align your employees with your vision. When employees feel connected to the direction of your company, they become ambassadors. They better understand their role in the structure of the company, and the merits of large company shifts. 

Employees need a common goal. When everyone is engaged and working in the same direction, the company works smarter and better. Your vision is that goal, that direction, and it’s up to you to communicate it to employees and continue those communications as the company that evolves.

Here are four ways that Tribe recommends sharing your vision with your company:

1) A vision book to put a stake in the ground. Tribe has created vision books as large as a paperback novel and as small as a passport. The goal of such a publication is to clearly articulate the vision, often along with the values that support that vision. We recommend vision books at the launch of a major cultural transformation or immediately following a large-scale change, such as a major acquisition or a new CEO.

2) Leadership communications to make it relevant. Before employees can walk the walk, they need to hear their top management talk the talk. In town halls and presentations, in blogs and intranet articles, the vision can anchor executive announcements of change, progress, challenges and successes. When those in the C-suite can tie difficult decisions back to the vision, it helps increase employee confidence in the company and trust in its management.

3) Manager communications to relate the vision to day-to-day work. Although leadership communication is important to set the bar for the vision, employees will look to their direct managers to understand how the vision impacts their individual jobs. Sometimes managers need help in knowing how to communicate that. Tools like discussion guides, talking points and other communication materials can make it easier for them to work vision into the conversation.

4) A culture magazine to share progress toward that vision. If the vision book puts the stake in the ground, a digital or print culture magazine sustains the relevance of the vision. Keep vision top of mind with articles on teams that have achieved important milestones or individuals that have contributed in some significant way to the company’s ability to realize that vision. Employees appreciate reading about the roles coworkers are playing in achieving the vision, whether those coworkers are in positions like to their own, or in completely different functional silos

Who is Responsible for Culture?

Simply put, the answer is everyone in the company. Each employee provides unique traits that collectively make up the culture that defines who you are and what you stand for. But who is ultimately responsible for leading the charge to create the ideal culture and how do you go about finding the right person?

Find someone who knows the company. When deciding who will take point on this initiative, look for a candidate who is well connected throughout the company and able to keep a general pulse on the environment at different levels and locations. Typically, HR and communications employees best fit this description, but focus more on the individual than the actual position. The candidate should be both well known and well respected as the new culture is going to impact everyone throughout the organization.

Get senior leadership involved.  Buy-in from your CEO and other senior level management is crucial to provide validity. Less engaged employees might be apprehensive about the culture building initiative at first, especially if it surrounds a difficult change. To combat this, look for opportunities to involve senior leadership as much as possible and have them serve as the “face” of the change. You will immediately gain credibility if they are able to effectively explain why the new culture is needed and how it can help business.

Create advocates. Especially for very large corporations it can be seemingly impossible for a single person or group to build the culture on their own. Instead, use managers and supervisors as conduits for communicating key points about the culture to their staff. Educate them beforehand on the rationale behind the new culture, how it will work and how it will impact their teams so they can act as cultural advoates within their respective groups.

Remember that much of a company’s culture develops organically. No matter what, don’t try to force-feed the new culture to your staff as it will likely lead to them becoming disengaged and disinterested. Give them the materials they need to form their own interpretations of how it will impact them and allow their unique personalities to help define what makes up your culture.

Elements of a Strong Culture

A strong culture is something envied by many. Though there are countless books and many experts on the subject, building a strong culture is harder than it seems. There are many different elements that build a culture and unfortunately there is no magic formula. Developing a culture takes a lot of time and energy from the top; however, there are core elements that can make the work easier.

In building a strong culture, companies need to invest in programs to teach employees. Just like you would invest in a program to teach your sales force product knowledge or sales tips, you need to invest resources into teaching your employees your culture. The idea that people will just learn the culture by being immersed in it while on the job may work for a very well established culture, but in most cases, if you want your employees to know it and live it, you need to teach it.

A fundamental element of a great culture is mutual respect. This sounds very basic but it is true. Employees need to feel a general level of respect as individuals and employees before they will begin to respect elements of your culture. To show respect for individuals, develop programs like employee spotlights on your intranet or celebrate personal accomplishments that will allow you to get to know the employee. This may not be possible on a macro level but is possible within individual departments and teams.

Employees need to feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. A recognition program and a simple “thank you” will go a long way in making an employee feel valued. Once an employee feels like an important part of the company, he or she is more likely to want to contribute and promote a positive culture.

Rituals and traditions play a key role in building a culture. They may seem silly at first, but casual Fridays, monthly luncheons and annual charity events are key to developing a culture. By employees experiencing these events, it helps showcase the personality behind a company. Even the type of food you choose or charity you select is a reflection of who you are or who you want to be.

Do you have other ideas of how to build a strong culture? We would love to hear
from you!

How to Know if Your Workplace Culture is Thriving

Many companies dedicate a significant amount of energy and financial resources to trying to build a stronger corporate culture. They develop goals and plans and have success implementing them, but are left wondering how much of what they do transcends into loyalty from their workforce. Here are some easy ways to tell if your efforts are paying off with your employees.

  1.  How does the communication flow? If your work processes are running smooth and teamwork is operating at an all time high, it shows people are communicating at an elevated rate. Resources such as quarterly magazines, internal portals and other communication channels create positive connections between employees that allow everyone to work and move forward on the same page.
  2. Have you brought your company values to life? Most organizations have an established set of values. Sometimes they only exist on their website, but when companies dedicate themselves to bringing them to life in the hearts and minds of their employees, they can act as guiding principles. They can provide employees with the road map for how their organization operates and how they treat their workforce. This provides a level of transparency that allows employees to fully embrace their employer and makes them more secure in their roles.
  3. What are they saying? If you’re looking for a more scientific approach that provides real numbers on the thoughts and feelings of your workforce, develop a companywide survey. People appreciate being asked for their opinion and it will provide you with solid results that let you know where you have succeeded and where you should re-dedicate some of your efforts.
  4. See any smiling faces? A company culture that thrives is full of people that enjoy coming to work. Of course we all appreciate a good vacation and a weekend to decompress, but when a company builds an environment where people don’t dread going to the office each day, it creates more productive employees.

Tribe specializes in building corporate cultures that boost employee morale, help increase production and improve workplace communications. Using multiple means and avenues, Tribe provides the solutions that connect people with their companies.

Bully Free Environment

What is bullying and is it really a problem? You can’t pick up People magazine or turn on the television without seeing something about bullying. Bullying is defined as an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally. In most cases, bullying is a behavior people use to gain power over another, which can explain why you often see it in the workplace.

Most bullies tend to be managers.  Most people believe that their boss received some type of formal training to be in a position of power. Most often than not, that is not the case.  Organizations will promote people that do good work.  They may or may not have the people and management skills to lead others and therefore resolve to being mean or overly critical to get the results they want.  This makes the situation very challenging for an employee, as it is difficult to confront a manager who is already insecure in their position of authority.

To change the bully, you need to change the culture.  Since most bullies tend to be in a position of power, it’s hard to change the person without changing the organization’s awareness and acceptance of their behavior.  Companies need to look deeper and change their culture.  The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem and look for internal or outside partners to develop a plan and lead the process for change.

Enlist the bully to help educate and change the organization. At Tribe, we work with global and national brands on developing cultures that cultivate a safe, accepting and productive environment.  This allows both managers and employees to be able to work at their optimal potential.  When faced with the challenge of a bully, we recommend enlisting the bully, other managers and select employees to be on the team to help spearhead communications programs that we have developed on their behalf.  This allows the bully to not feel targeted and most likely they will be more open to changing their behavior.  This also allows employees to have a voice in this process.

Culture change doesn’t happen overnight.  While developing a plan to create a bully-free environment can be done fairly quickly with help from an outside source, the actual change will take time.  It takes dedication and patience to change a culture and educate all employees, specifically managers, about what is acceptable in the workplace.