What Stories Are Your Forward-Facing People Telling?

Imagine expressing to someone that you are excited to see them, and they respond with, “Why are you here?” That’s basically what happened to me at a job and internship fair in college, though maybe not in so many words. I had always admired the MTA for their marketing on their own trains and buses. As a starry-eyed marketing nerd, I thought it would be epic to be a part of such a large organization that used its own product to market themselves and spread information. So, when I saw that the MTA had a table at the job fair, I made a beeline to chat with the recruiter. I told her, maybe a little too enthusiastically, that I was so happy they were there and that I was interested in marketing.

She just kind of looked at me like I was wearing my socks on my ears, and dismissively said that they weren’t there about marketing positions. I walked away bothered that she didn’t have the decency to give me the time of day. Years, and countless subway rides, later, I feel the same way about the MTA as any self-respecting New Yorker does: ICK.

Now that my job is all about engaging the members of your team, I see even more clearly how that recruiter represented a much bigger problem within the company culture at the MTA. (Or maybe she just wasn’t great at her job, and everyone else there is a unicorn. But for the purposes of my example, bear with me here.)

According to indeed.com, the rating for company culture at the MTA is a 3.8. That’s not terrible…but it’s not A+ either. To me it sounds like, “meh, we aren’t MISERABLE here!” If that’s how your employees feel, that’s how they are going to project your company’s brand. Which could be why that recruiter greeted me with one big MEH. She wasn’t excited about her job, so why should she want to talk to someone who was? Yet, she was the forward-facing employee; they chose her and her attitude to represent their entire company to a potential employee. And guess what? They missed out on having a passionate person on their team. The cycle continues.

The CEO of Zappos, and guru of all things company culture, said in his book Delivering Happiness :

“We thought that if we got the culture right, then building our brand to be about the very best customer service would happen naturally on its own.”

Tony Hsieh

What story are your forward-facing people telling? Are they so happy with their career that they make everyone they speak to love your company too? Or are they so disenchanted that they brush off potential clients and recruits?

Here are a couple of ways to find out:

  • Ask your team members for anonymous feedback on the company culture and their satisfaction with the team.
  • Ask customers for feedback on customer service.
  • Have a friend call in and see what the interaction was like for them.
  • Ask your team when they feel like they are at their best and why.

Gathering a little information from your team and your clients will be the first step in understanding what kind of culture your organization is putting into the world. This matters in today’s world even more because, “Nearly 80% of Millennials look for people and culture fit with employers, followed by career potential.” Today’s new hires don’t want to work for you if they don’t feel like they are wanted!

Remember, culture happens, whether you want it to or not. It’s up to you to make sure that culture is a great one.

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