Legacy is a loaded term. If you’re the glass half empty type it smacks of “ old fashioned, out of date, redundant”. If you favour the glass half full approach you’ll make associations like “firm foundations; proven track record and relationship equity” when you hear this term.
As a brand and engagement specialist, I’m acutely aware that one of the strongest but often most underappreciated assets many Old World brands have is their legacy. In times of crisis and change it can be comforting to employees to know that this organisation has withstood worse in the past.
As individuals, we seem to be increasingly interested in notions of legacy, family heritage – where we come from. The Haka, the famous tribal dance of the feared New Zealand rugby team literally attempts to summon up the spirits of the ancestors of the combatants to provide strength and courage as they face a new challenge. Perhaps this was what organisations like Walmart have tried to replicate with their company songs or may explain the communal song and dance rituals at employee conferences?
Now this overt attempt to conjure up corporate spirit isn’t to everyone’s taste. It illustrates the point that employee engagement has to be fit for purpose within local employee markets. But by mentioning what some may consider to be “naff” engagement initiatives that are puzzlingly powerful mutu for others does beg the question “what are you doing to engage your employees during the downturn”?
It comes as little surprise to me that I’ve seen a rise in the number of complaints from employees across sectors about the availability of their line managers. There has also been a decline in face to face communication like Team Briefings and a rise in what I term e-mail management. When they can’t come up with answers to tricky issues many line managers are choosing to lie low.
In these dark days, leaders need to call upon all of their resources to speed up the recovery process. If your brand has a legacy, what initiatives are you undertaking to make the most of that heritage to provide confidence, assurance and a sense of stability? Most importantly, how are your most important communicators, your line managers, being recognised and utilised as the eyes, ears and voice of the business?