Yogi Bera, New York Yankee of days gone by, has a book out entitled “When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It.” It’s one of his most famous aphorisms, and from what I’ve seen, the guiding light for a lot of organizations when it comes to determining what their employer brand strategy should be.
What’s that you say? All employer brand strategies are the same? Determine the value proposition, how to couch it, and go home for an evening of Must See TV? Well my friends, I beg to differ (although why one needs to beg in order to differ is beyond me).
There are two distinct approaches that an organization must grapple with when it comes to determining the path to take for its employer brand strategy. Is it seeking to attract candidates to a culture that is properly aligned with its mission and business objective, or is it seeking to alter the culture from the outside in, driving change through the attributes of an employee population more in tune with its business objectives? The answer to this has a dramatic and immediate effect on crafting the approach to the development of employer brand strategies.
In the first instance, the organization would seek to find a balance between its aspirations for the employer brand and the realities of the employment experience. In the latter case, the entirety of the strategy is driven almost solely by the aspirations.
The implications of an aspiration-only approach usually means that the strategy can be developed and brought to market faster, but the organization must be prepared for the ensuing dynamic tension that results when a new set of employee attributes are brought into the organization en masse. (“Set up a perimeter – the newbies are preparing to storm the cafeteria!”)
The more typical approach of matching market drivers with existing cultural attributes takes a bit longer to bring to market. This is because, as stated in a previous posting, there are three distinct perspectives to understand: employer aspirations, employment experience realities, and market perceptions. However, the organization can look forward to focusing its efforts on amplifying the culture, which is much easier on the organizational psyche.
One approach is not superior to the other, it’s just a matter of making the correct determination prior to beginning the development of an employer brand strategy.
Or if you’d like, you can do it the hard way, and simply come to the fork in the road and take it.
Random Rave: I actually prefer Woody Allen’s variation on coming to a fork in the road. It can be found in the opening of a speech he once gave to college graduates. “More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”