We’re all familiar with the cliché that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In fact it’s the philosophy on which process management methodologies like Total Quality Management and Kaizen are based. But what has process and systems thinking got to do with the subtle arts of people-centred services like HR management, Organisation Development and the concept of Employer Brand?
As some of you will know, I believe the term employer brand is a misnomer. As I’ve stressed in this column previously, Employer Brand is only half the story. It represents the “promise making” part of the equation. A more appropriate term is Employment Brand which takes into account the promises made by the organisation about the working practices, values, norms - or put another way - the culture, but also factors in the reality and actual employee feedback about the delivery of the promise.
We’re accustomed to seeing the application of principles like customer relationship management and the management of the customer value chain by our marketing colleagues concerned with the brand projected to customers. But how many of our HR colleague are applying similar principles to the management of the employment brand. I would suggest, right at this moment, very few.
The value of a process-focused approach to managing Employment Brand is that it:
- stimulates cooperation between the key internal stakeholders responsible for managing the links in the chain
- it drives consistency in how the brand is interpreted and communicated
- it encourages performance measures at each link in the chain and provides a platform for more effective relationship management at each stage
To illustrate my point, take a wander through the vacancy pages of even premier recruitment sites like Changeboard, and PR Week. How many simple but explicit errors can you detect in the advertisements? Now ask yourself how this makes you feel about the capability of the agency in question to manage your account, cv or personal profile with appropriate care and sensitivity. If you’re the client of the agency, how well do you think they are representing your brand and what are the explicit and opportunity costs of these errors?
It’s a little unfair to single out the recruitment agencies that are largely reliant upon the quality of the briefing they receive from our own ceos, but hopefully it helps to illustrate my point. It’s tough for HR professional to ensure they are sufficiently in tune with the strategic goals of the business and translating this data into the processes they promote and stakeholders they rely upon as they manage the evolution of the Employment Brand.
What is clear, however, is that managing the Employment Brand does call for systems thinking. And this presents another opportunity for collaboration with our more explicitly external facing colleagues in order to bring the brand to life from inside.