To inspire desired brand behaviors in employees, one must first accept a couple truths. One — behavior change isn’t easy. Not in yourself. Not in your employees. Two — feeling overwhelmed is a reality in most organizations today. The ongoing demands of day-to-day operations often hold back progress on strategic initiatives.
One way to more effectively introduce desired brand behaviors and make them stick is by respecting the way our brains work. The prefrontal cortex is the major thinking part of our brain that is activated in our daily work. It’s the site of deep creative thinking, decision-making, planning and problem solving. It’s an extremely valuable part of our brains, but when it’s overloaded it goes haywire. It’s at its best when it’s given the opportunity to focus on one priority at a time.
So, when you seek behavior change to support delivery of your brand, do not overload your employees with too many new messages or strategies at once. It results in a bunch of overwhelmed minds instead of high-performing employees. Select a few influential goals as the focus as opposed to overloading employees with too many priorities and messages at once. The Four Disciplines of Execution offers a great filtering question to determine which goal to make the focus: “If every other area of our operation remained at its current level of performance, what is the one area where change would have the greatest impact?”
Executing brand behaviors with intentionality
Focus and discipline will set you down the right path. To make your execution plan even more effective, embrace the following:
Don’t leave the goals too high-level or ambiguous. If you do, they are easily swept away by the day to day. Instead, break them into bite-sized chunks. Work with employees to explicitly spell out an action or behavior they can tackle that contributes to the organizational goal.
Let each employee play a role in defining his or her own specific action. This appeal to autonomy activates positive neurological reward responses that increase engagement.
Make sure that employee commitments are tied to measurable results so that employees can clearly see whether they have made an impact. Otherwise, they will lack the needed impetus to keep performing.
Ensure that employees do, in fact, achieve the results they set out to achieve. If they don’t, be sure to hold them accountable until they do.
Define a timeframe for regular check-ins that creates a rhythm toward strategic progress. A brief weekly meeting is an ideal framework to define and report back on each employee’s strategic action.
When communicating your execution plan, don’t make things too formal. Speak in a human voice that is relatable for employees. This resonance elevates engagement.
Delivering the brand successfully
Today people crave deeper, more meaningful interactions with the products and services they buy. B2B Brands are living, breathing entities with deeply human characteristics. Employees must play a big role in delivering any brand’s promised experience. Their behaviors define the brand. So, while it is true that your employees will have some exposure to your new brand or strategic initiative by default, you cannot assume they will practice desired on-brand behaviors simply by osmosis. They have plenty to do executing the basic tasks of their jobs without decoding a new positioning or strategy. When you make it easy for employees, working with them to break down the big picture strategy into specific, measurable actions, you will see results. One by one, over time you will instill on-brand behaviors that stick. And along the way you will reignite the passion in your teams, bring focus and discipline to their efforts, and ultimately help them see they are winners who make a real difference.