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Best of NAMA 2020

By Alicia Heun, Director of Engagement, Paulsen, Sioux Falls, SD

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Raise your hand if you've ever sat through a strategic board meeting or spent countless hours identifying your organization's vision or brand direction.

Now, raise your hand again if, nine months later, your entire organization can explain why those vision or brand statements are important to them.

We often see lots of hands for question 1. If you were not able to raise your hand for question 2, you are not alone. Our team at Paulsen has helped hundreds of organizations create clear, memorable language targeting customers and prospects. According to Inc. Magazine, more than 65% of strategic plans fail.

1. Gather employee feedback to build the brand or vision statement.

Part of your plan of attack for a new brand promise or vision statement should be to talk to internal stakeholders. Your employees are one of your most significant assets.

Leader Action: Through a survey, focus group, or casual conversations, ensure you're hearing their feedback on why they get up and come to work every day and what inspires them. If all of your employees can see themselves in your brand messaging or strategic direction, it will be easier for them to buy in and be positive advocates.

2. Include your Human Resources team so that incentives, performance measurement and recruiting tools tie into the vision or brand promises.

Creating crystal-clear expectations increases employee engagement in a new vision or brand direction. If employees are incentivized by "widgets per hour" but your new brand promise is all about the customer experience, your employees will live in a constant state of conflict. It is important that your policies, procedures and expectations are consistent with your company's direction.

Leader Action: Bring Human Resources into the process and ask for their help to ensure recruiting messaging matches the messaging your customers will be hearing. Your prospective employees and prospective customers are essentially the same target audience.

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3. Once instituted, survey employees in order to benchmark awareness.

Once your new vision statement is ready for dissemination, it is time to take the organization's pulse so you can measure awareness growth.

Leader Action: Following these Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) guidelines, we recommend building a simple survey to identify your employees' understanding of your vision or brand promise. In six or nine months, distribute the same survey to determine growth and assess opportunities for improvement.

We recommend cross-tabulating these results so you can determine if a specific business department, geography or seniority level needs additional assistance in understanding and sharing the company vision or brand messaging.

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