Imagine having a friend / partner who spent all their time with you telling you how amazing they were? Constant one-way conversation all the time. Nothing else but talking at you. Every time you looked at them they’d use the opportunity to tell you things like….

  • I’m awesome.
  • When you’re with me, have the freedom to be all you can be.
  • I’m trustworthy.
  • I have a strong moral code.
  • I believe in creativity and welcome innovation.
  • Your thoughts and ideas are very valuable to me.
  • I’m successful.
  • I have a long and proud history.
  • Yada yada.

It would be a very short lived relationship in my world. You see I’m not as interested in my friend / partner TELLING me how amazing she is, as SHOWING me her amazingness.

I get to walk around lots of different companies. In most of them a lot of time, energy and money are spent on internal marketing. Loads and loads of messaging taking up wall-space, digital screens, literature, training programmes, etc.

It dawned on me this week that the messaging is mostly made up of companies telling their people who they are. These are our values; this is what we stand for; this is our vision; and our mission; this is what you can expect from us. Those types of messages.

As I wandered around one particular business last week, taking in all the messaging, I wanted to respond with, “I know you. I’ve been working here for 3 years now, why do you feel like you’ve got to keep telling me all about you?”

  • Could it be that organisations have lost their confidence when it comes to showing their people who they are?
  • Have those at the top realised that the gap has become so wide between who they really are and who they aspire to be, that they’ve become so incapable of closing the gap, they’ve commissioned Marketing to do the next best thing…. cover up the problem with clever, emotive messaging?
  • Perhaps they’ve become tired and lazy and shifted the responsibility almost completely to Marketing and HR?

I thought up at least 6 different scenarios, and everyone I came up with didn’t seem like a healthy place for an organisation to be.

I don’t think their people have bought into the hype. Instead, I think they’ve become jaded and seldom even pay any attention to all the messages of ‘self-love’. What most people want to see is those messages come to life through action. Of course there are companies that get the balance right. More walking and less talking, but on the whole, I’m not convinced they’re anything more than a minority.

Personal relationships are not sustainable when one or both parties spend all their time together talking at the other one about how amazing they are. Sustainable relationships are made up of things like spontaneity, fun, care, listening, commitment, sacrifice, putting the other before yourself, etc. These are all verbs that require ACTION. Organisations today would be better off taking a page from a good ‘how to love’ book, rather than a clever ‘how to tell people who you are in 7 words’ book.

That’s if you’re wanting to woo your people to fall in love with you. If you’re not aiming for that, then slap up another poster and tell me why I should love you.