People (not robots) build great brands.

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Kathy Sierra strikes (and scores) again with this post on many companies' dysfunctional hiring and employee management habits. The above illustration (ripped from her post) pretty much say it all, but here's more:

In an earlier post I said, "If you asked the head of a company which employee they'd prefer: the perfect team player who doesn't rock the boat or the one who is brave enough to stand up and fight for something rather than accept the watered-down group think that maintains the status quo (or makes things worse), who would they SAY they'd choose? Who would they REALLY choose?

In his book Re-imagine", Tom Peters says, "We will win this battle... and the larger war... only when our talent pool is both deep and broad. Only when our organizations are chock-a-block with obstreperous people who are determined to bend the rules at every turn..."

So yes, I'm thinking Mr. CEO of Very Large Company would say that their company should take the upstart whatever-it-takes person over the ever-compromising team player. "If that person shakes us up, gets us to rethink, creates a little tension, well that's a Good Thing", the CEO says. riiiiiiiiiight. While I believe most CEOs do think this way, wow, that attitude reverses itself quite dramatically the futher you reach down the org chart. There's a canyon-sized gap between what company heads say they want (brave, bold, innovative) and what their own middle management seems to prefer (yes-men, worker bees, team players). "
The clip and paste thing isn't me being lazy. It's just that Kathy obviously doesn't really need to be paraphrased.

That being said, here's more clicking and pasting:

I'm not done with my horse-training-as-universal-metaphor phase, so here's another thing I learned from the Parelli Natural Horsemanship conference:

"Too many people fall into the my robot is better than your robot trap... and knock the exuberance out of their horse. What you're left with is a well-trained robot, not a curious, playful, mentally and emotionally balanced living creature."

"Hmmmm", I thought, "that sounds an awful lot like some of the companies I've worked for." Not that you'd ever in a million years get them to admit that. Possibly not even to themselves. But the proof is in their practices. Of course some argue that exuberance on the job is not necessarily a good thing. That too much passion leads to problems. I say BS on that one. Real passion means you love the profession, the craft, the domain you're in. And that may or may not happen to coincide with a passion for your current employer. When some folks talk about too much passion for a job, they're usually referring to something a little less healthy... the thing that lets your employer take advantage of you, having you work round the clock because of their bad scheduling, or because they refuse to say "no" to clients, or because you have a manager that wants to look good to his manager... and you're the lucky one chosen to be the "hero."

If you knock out exuberance, you knock out curiosity, and curiosity is the single most important attribute in a world that requires continuous learning and unlearning just to keep up. If we knock out their exuberance, we've also killed their desire to learn, grow, adapt, innovate, and care. So why do we do it?
Why Robots Are the Best Employees:

1) They don't challenge the status quo

2) They don't ask those uncomfortable questions

3) They're 100% obedient

4) They don't need "personal" days.

5)... because they don't have a personal life

6) They never make the boss look bad (e.g. stupid, incompetent, clueless, etc.)

7) They dress and talk the way you want them to

8) They have no strongly-held opinions

9) They have no passion, so they have nothing to "fight" for

10) They are always willing to do whatever it takes (insane hours, etc.)

11) They are the ultimate team players

12) They don't complain when you micromanage (tip: micromanaging is in fact one of the best ways to create a robot)

13) They don't care what their workspace is like, and don't complain if they don't have the equipment they need

14) They'll never threaten your job

15) They make perfect scapegoats

16) They get on well with zombies

Image shamelessly stolen from Kathy's post.

What does any of this have to do with branding? Everything: At the core of every successful brand are people. Happy people create happy brands. Unhappy people create unhappy brands.
If you think that sounds ridiculous, think of it this way: What company do you think will fare better? Company A, where employees are engaged, empowered, passionate and inspired to do great work, interact with their customers and create a positive culture, or Company B, where employees are unfulfilled, afraid to speak up, stressed, scarcely rewarded and micromanaged?


Happy employees create happy customers. Unhappy employees create unhappy customers. It's just science. The question is, what kind of company are you managing?

And if your company is more like company B than company A, when did things go wrong? Why did things go wrong? What are you doing about it?

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