For so many years, it has been oft-repeated that the contemporary HR professional must be multifaceted, possess an understanding of cross-functional aspects in the organization, provide strategic direction, intent and inputs to the line managers, be capable and competent to sit on the board – in a nutshell, be not just a leader in HR, but a strategic think-tank that most across the organization can really look up to.
Times have changed, and here is the need for the new age HR professional to be a great brand manager.
A brand manager, who can clearly lay down the attributes that the organization stands for, craft a communication plans around that, and constantly iterate it, to the organization and to the outside world, which is populated by the target audience – prospective employees (internal clients), the external clients at large, and all those who matter.
Most of all, the crucial hat that the HR pro must be able to don with ease is that of a Brand Manager…. Unless he or she can be a smart and seasoned brand manager, it will be almost next to impossible for the HR Professional to win the war for talent and also sustain existing talent within – all this, amidst the intense fight for scarce talent, and a mad rush & scramble to recruit, retain, re-train, de and get the best out of people, here and now!
Creating the organizations brand value proposition can no more be just a role that the internal/external marketing team will do… the content which is so crucial for the success of any marketing program must come in from the top leadership, and it is only the HR professional who commands a place on the table, owing to the sheer cross functional value he can add, – who can drive the organizational marketing from within.
To re-phrase this, the core of the marketing program – that drives the BRAND of the organization – MUST be the onus of the HR leader in the organization.
For this, the HR leader must be one who can craft, articulate and strategize all branding efforts of the company, around the core values and messages that the organization stands for.
This besides, as for any product or service brand, the HR team must bear in mind that there is a need to reposition, re-package and re-invent the organization brand, time and again.
Its imperative to understand that the brand life cycle – call it, how much tangible and intangible results that communicating the brand can actually produce – is limited to a life cycle – as in PLC. At the laggard end of this cycle, like almost any PLC, the brand needs to re-invented, repositioned, or even completely re-launched…. This, by ensuring that the brand/organization reflects endearing values/benefits and at the same time, making the right brand noises in the right place (there is no great difference – for the outsider, a new Liril and a rejuvenated Infy or Wipro, could stand to communicate the same brand strength, energy and longevity!)
Who else but the HR leader know the so many P’s of the organization brand better than him or her…. While the internal marketing/branding team can go about the task of implementing the branding exercises, the strategic insight for the program must come in from the human resources head and the core HR team.
P for Product – the organization itself – encompassing its values, vision and mission – what the organization intends to be, and what it delivers end of the day – delivery of not just the product or the services, but things like re-plough profits to be, the CSR program et al, the green commitment and so on.
P for Place – the facilities, the infrastructure etc, the ambience, the kind of work culture, the hygiene issues which are unique to the company, how it can be a great place to work for a whole generation of employees.
P for performance – the performance of the organization measured by revenues and profits, can at best be the sum total of individual performances. It’s the HR’s onus to craft performance management programs across the organization to ensure the goals are achieved.
Akin to this, pick up any P component of the marketing pie, and one can clearly see the crucial role the HR leader can play as a branding professional.
As in marketing/branding any conventional product/service, promotion is the crucial P that determines win or otherwise for the marketing/branding efforts… and the promotion is continuous and consistent… these could the the tangible and intangible benefits that the company can proffer to the current/prospective talent pool.
Besides this, branding is also about having great employee engagement tools – call it innovation in branding – how each organization has its unique EE programs in place.
The raison d’être of the HR professional as a brand manager is to create, sustain and re-create an endearing brand value proposition in the mind of the prospective buyers – here the employment market, and the employee pool, and the team within.
So, HR professionals as HR leaders in organizations are passé. This is a new world in which every good HR professional is a marketing/branding specialist as well!