You've got corporate values. They're really good. You want to share stories about your employees who exhibit those values. Would you believe that your employees aren't OK with that approach if it reduces the extent to which their individual identify is featured?
Work with me a bit on this one. An employee does great work. You see a natural fit to "ownership", one of your corporate values. Your employee probably thinks it has less to do with your stated values and more to do with what's inside them - as an individual.
Which means that if you're going to feature them in a values campaign, you've got to celebrate that individual as much as your value set. You can accomplish both, but don't forget the individual side of the house.
BYU Football learned that recently with the most visable communication space available in college football - the space where names are displayed on jerseys. More from the Salt Lake Tribune:
"BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall has at times been criticized as an inflexible and stubborn leader who doesn’t listen to the concerns of his players as much as he should, but on Thursday night he changed his mind on an issue that had Cougar fans and players alike yelping in disgust.
Five or so hours after saying the core values of his football program — Spirit, Tradition and Honor — would adorn the backs of BYU’s jerseys during every game this season, rather than players’ last names — the coach decided it would be for one game only after listening to the concerns of players in a team meeting."
The players revolted because their individuality wasn't on display, and also because they weren't given a chance to have input, which is another lesson BYU's giving us here on communication and the feedback loop:
"The players — and seemingly everyone else in the program except Mendenhall — first learned of the change when they found their 2013 jerseys hanging in the locker room on Thursday afternoon and walked into the school’s Indoor Practice Facility for the annual photo day.
A third of the jerseys had Spirit on the back. Another third read Tradition, and the last third Honor. The players said they didn’t even get a chance to pick the value they would wear.
Many players were stunned and incredulous as they filed into the indoor practice facility to get their pictures taken in their new jerseys. Several players with negative things to say about the change refused to comment publicly."
Whoops! Imagine if you automatically plugged one of your corporate values next to the employee's name in every email sent on your outlook server. Weird? A bit.
Your employees don't wear jerseys - but when you celebrate their accomplishments and try to market your corporate values at the same time, this seems like a good reminder to really dig in and talk about what makes the employee special as you celebrate the alignment with your values.
Which came first? Your values or the employee being a rock star? The employee being a rock star. You can accomplish both, but simply describing what an employee did and the alignment with the value is probably stopping short. Why not talk a bit about why the employee is different overall?
In others words, put your companies name on the front of their jersey, and the employee's name on the back.