In part seven of our series expanding on the article Retaining Top Performers, we are this month exploring Personal Brand Awareness, and the importance of developing and maintaining a presence that enhances the profile of top performers as they develop their role and influence, both within the organisation, and beyond.
Personal branding has (perhaps unfairly) in the past been associated with self-promotion and ego-centric values. However personal brand awareness encompasses several layers, many of which are arguably essential to the success of the individual, the accompanying team and the organisation as a whole. Like many other marketing and development practises brand awareness has evolved into a more holistic exercise, and working with it in the right way not only encourages top performers to raise their profile whilst sharing ideas and best practice with other departments, it is also an effective tool for reaching out further across your industry arena to customers and clients in a more multi-dimensional way. For instance, according to a Nielson Consumer Survey, only 33% of buyers trust messages from a brand, while 90% trust messages from an individual they know. That means if you’re a business owner or organisational leader, you have a much better chance of winning people’s trust by bonding with them first as a human being and encouraging your employees to do the same (Lake, Personal Branding and What You Need to Know About It).
Creating Unity and Strength
Especially within Social Housing and the Public Sector, it can feel counter-intuitive to project an image of positive self-awareness and actively promote one’s own talents and goals, not least because many professionals enter their career with the express goal of enhancing the quality of life for others. Turning the spotlight around and promoting one’s self-image can feel unnatural. Yet with so much external scrutiny and focus on the negative challenges currently being faced across the entire public sector, it could be argued it is more crucial than ever to understand the importance of a well-developed brand, a commitment to encouraging individual strengths and attributes and build self-awareness into a unified values system that every member of the team feels they add strength to.
The Power of Social Media
When discussing brand awareness, we can no longer ignore social media as an ingrained and essential part of every successful organisation’s marketing strategy, and we are now somewhat used to the notion of maintaining a level of control and direction over individual personal and professional profiles. However, it’s important to ensure we are not only shaping a presence that on the one hand clearly defines who we are and what we currently have to offer, but also forging a consistent and well-maintained pathway for where we as an individual would like to take our own role and that of the organisation in future.
Once brand and presence has been clearly defined, how an individual presents oneself within a team, as well as to clients, stakeholders and beyond into the public realm (increasingly now as an online presence), should be:
· Of value
· Representative of your aims
· In line with your goals
Consistency – There should be a consistent effort to deliver what you are about and have to offer, and it should be delivered to the right people. Lopis (Personal Branding Is A Leadership Requirement, Not a Self-Promotion Campaign – Forbes) states we should be consistently ‘living’ our personal brand every day, however of those his organisation surveyed, 70% believed they had defined their personal brand and 50% felt they were already living it, when in reality the figures were only 15% and 5% consecutively. The reason for this indiscretion, he believes, is because their focus was centred solely on self-promotion rather than a commitment to advance themselves by serving others.
Value – Personal branding should go further than mere self-promotion. According to Buj (5 Tips For Building Your Personal Brand In The Workplace), to become respected in your company or industry, you should be very clear on what unique value you provide and how to connect that to your organisation’s mission. Focussing on what sets you apart from your peers, and consistently emphasising your strengths, your passions, and your goals will become part of your personal brand, and can be used to add value to your organisation and even the industry in which you circulate.
Representative of Your Aims – it is important to recognise that the effort spent on creating a personal brand should be creating awareness of your achievements, showcasing your success stories and show clearly the aims you wish to accomplish. In this way, by self-promoting your work and ideas it is possible to be a positive role model, mentor, and an influential voice that adds real value to your team, organisation and industry, whilst allowing an open flow of dialogue with others to engage with, promoting best practice and a collaborative environment.
Goal Alignment – To maintain a consistent personal brand presence, the destination a person wishes to reach and the goals they wish to achieve should always be in mind. If someone’s passion lies in a particular quarter for instance, and they are hoping to one day attain a senior role therein, how can their organisation create the opportunities and avenues for that individual to attain this, and how can the individual promote themselves and align their aims to the organisational goals and values? As discussed in part 3 of the series, Training and Development, top performers are far more likely to stay within their role if opportunities are created for them to grow within the organisation and if goals are mutually aligned.
In a modern, fast paced and results driven work environment it is essential for organisations, and especially the Social Housing and Public Sectors, to recognise the value of personal brand awareness. Where sector leaders are being laden with extra responsibility, personal accountability and stretched resources, being equipped to take ownership of one’s presence in a positive way by showcasing individual strengths, contributions and valuable ideas will undoubtedly assist in personal development. But essentially, it will also encourage and promote a positive image of these organisations and industries as a whole. This is vital if these industry sectors are to play a bigger part in shaping their future image and taking their rightful place among the top industries to work for, as well as attracting much needed talent, who will be looking for a positive presence from those industry leaders who will ultimately influence their career decisions.
Alma Sheren is Head of Marketing and Communications for Greenacre Recruitment, and collaborates with the team and wider network on Leadership, Human Resources, Change Management issues and the challenges and transitions currently facing the UK housing sector.