Put your best foot forward
How many of you have given or received this advice? My guess is that most people have at one point or another, from a parent, teacher, boss, coach or mentor. It is a simple but powerful message, to lead with your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses. While the phrase is most often used on individuals, it is also applicable to organizations. In today's competitive environment for talent, employers need to showcase and rely on their strengths in order to attract and retain the best people.
Unless your organization is one of the few to be blessed with a strong enough reputation to result in an ample supply of applicants to fill your open positions, you are already keenly aware that you need to determine your competitive advantage and then play to it. Maybe you had to learn this lesson the hard way by losing a top-notch applicant to one of your competitors or having a long-term, valued employee unexpectedly jump ship for a new opportunity. For many organizations, the transition of employment activities to the internet, including employer websites, online recruiting and social media provided the most significant wake-up call. In the talent arena (as in most every area), the internet has been "game-changing" and has widened the gap between those employers who get it and those who have been slow to adapt. It is virtually impossible to compete (or put your best foot forward) without a well-executed online presence.
Remember however, that the core strengths that you're focused on are the same regardless of the medium in which you're presenting them. Your organization's values, products and services, employee benefits and organizational culture can and should all be highlighted in a wide variety of ways including good old-fashioned word-of-mouth, print media and certainly, online. To have messages resonate, it helps greatly to be consistent. Corporate brands that have alignment, i.e., when every interaction you have with the brand reinforces the brand image, have proved to have a competitive edge in scoring customers and talent. Many job candidates decide to pass on employment opportunities with organizations where the messages seem out of sync. For example, prior to the in-person interview, the applicant reviews a slick website with what appears to be a clean, modern facility supported by testimonials from satisfied employees. Then, on-site for the interview, the office space looks outdated and potential co-workers appear disengaged. Can you say disconnect?
So, what are your strengths and are you leading with them? No individual or organization is perfect and most have plenty of weaknesses as well. It's important to showcase the positive and minimize the negative. If you need help, start by asking your employees and other potential stakeholders (e.g. vendors, partners, customers, ETC.). They are normally more than happy to share their thoughts on this critical topic. There are formal survey methods to accomplish this, but many organizations already have the data in-house, gathered through performance reviews, stay interviews, customer satisfaction surveys, or applicant rejection feedback. Many reputable resources, including HR Source, offer a plethora of ways to support your efforts, including employee engagement surveys, benefit satisfaction surveys, customer satisfaction surveys and recruiting services. No matter which methods you employ, it will be worth your effort.
Because there has never been a better time to put your best foot forward, I would highly recommend you attend the final session of our Corporate Culture Series on December 5 where you'll hear from some of the area's most accomplished business leaders on how they create an atmosphere for success. Participants will be inspired by real-life case studies and leave with tips for making their organizational cultures stronger than ever. As always, the panelists will be engaging and ready to answer questions from our audience. I look forward to seeing you there.
• Mary Lynn Fayoumi, CAE, SPHR, GPRH, SHRM-SCP is president and CEO of HR Source