By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent at Sonnhalter
Do your employees know where your products are used? Do they know the applications the parts they make make possible? Are they aware of the history and critical nature of your company? There are many simple, cost-effective ways to increase productivity and morale by implementing a program that lets them know.
To land new business, you’re always told to “Tell Your Story” well. It’s just as important to tell it internally. Why?
• It makes employees feel like part of the plan – Let them see the big picture and where you as a company fit into it
• It helps them see the long view, not just their day-to-day part in it – There’s a plan, not just a daily task
• It builds internal networks – If Engineering tells their story to Customer Service, everyone sees people and faces, not silos
• It allows them to be brand ambassadors – If they know the story you want told, then that’s the story that gets re-told
So how do you reach them? That’s the easiest part—the same way you reach new customers:
• Host an Employee Open House – Let them show off to their kids, and see what goes on in other departments
• Giving a tour of your facility? Engage employees – Don’t treat them like an extension of the machine they’re working, but have them describe what they do, and the cost savings, quality assurance or other aspect of their work
• Start an internal newsletter – It’s a great place to either post external press releases, or develop case studies for outside use
• Cover the Walls – Advertising blown up as posters reinforce your brand internally and when guests tour your facility
• Let them hear & be heard – Have a quarterly or monthly meeting of non-managerial representatives from every department, and allow for an open exchange or ideas, complaints and stories
• Highlight your company’s history whenever possible – Old ads, press clippings or photos give a sense of pride and place
• Have a mission statement – And stress it internally. Print it on business cards, coffee cups in the vending machines; anywhere it will be seen regularly
You don’t need to be told that Manufacturing has gotten a bad rap. For years it’s been the butt of jokes, seen as a “dead end” and been declared all but extinct in this country by countless talking heads.
Well those people are wrong. And the house they left to get into the car they drove to the studio where they made their comments is testament to it. And it’s time your employees knew that too.
I once heard a really cool story about the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It has a unique elevator that kind of side-steps its way up to the top of the arch. Well if you look into the arch, instead of out at the view, along the way you’ll see large welder-generators. They’ve been there since the Arch was built in the mid 60’s. Because of the way the arch was made, it was impossible to move them, so they just left them, placed another (which also got left behind) and kept building.
As a former employee of that welding manufacturer, I think that’s fascinating, and if I could ever get over my nagging fear of heights, it would be the best part of the trip up. To know that something that was made in the same building I worked in was instrumental in a project like that, it just boggles the mind. All the “ordinary” people, doing their “ordinary” job at factories all across the country added up to a modern marvel like that. Inspire that sense of awe in your employees, and they’ll help do the heavy lifting of establishing a brand.