Traditionally, the human resources function has been primarily focused on capability-based hiring, retention and development of corporate culture.
Hiring has been predicated on identifying candidates with the exact skill set necessary to fill a particular position. Retention has revolved around placing new hires in environments that provide an opportunity to best leverage those skill sets. And corporate culture has largely been defined from the top down not by human resources, but by a marketing function determined to bring employees in line with the organizational identity it creates from a customer-facing brand perspective.
Now, human resources is encountering an era of profound change. Rather than being directed by the traditional capabilities-driven philosophy, forward-leaning HR departments are taking a more personalized approach with personal branding at its core.
CareerNews writer, Melissa Brassfield, says, “allowing each employee to be him or herself results in individualism, or personal branding. When this happens, innovation is inevitable.”
One of the primary motivations for this shift is a growing concentration on “fit.” “When you’re hiring, look past the experience candidates come with, to the potential for them to grow into the perfect fit for your company,” opines Fast Company contributor, Dinah Wisenberg Brin. Now an integral part of the hiring process, fit speaks more to who an individual is than what they do. In the not-so-distant past, engineers, marketers and product development people have been pocketed together according to their functionality.
Hiring is where personal branding has the most obvious impact. Recruiters want to go beyond skill sets and gain as much of an understanding as they can of what specific candidates are going to be like if they end up being employed. How are they going to respond to the environment around them? How are they going to interact with colleagues, supervisors and subordinates? How are they going to mesh with the organization’s character and underlying philosophies? “Personal branding is about embracing what makes people unique and makes us diverse,” says Forbes columnist, Jacquelyn Smith.
As any experienced HR professional knows, though, hiring is just the beginning. Where the rubber really meets the road is with retention. Here again, the determinant of success is shifting from performance to fit, giving individual employees an unprecedented opportunity to establish meaningful working relationships and gain recognition for what they bring to an organization as a singular contributor. As Generation Relations and Leadership Expert, Lisa Orrell, says, “people have to know who they are and who they want to be in order to perform in management and leadership roles effectively.”
Perhaps the most significant net effect of personal branding on the human resources function is the way it enables the HR department to drive the definition of an organization’s culture. This bottom-up model inverts the typical marketing-driven process of creating a brand identity first, then letting that inform the definition of the culture.
Instead, it employs an aggregation of personal brands established from within to define an organization’s culture and build its outward-facing brand identity from that base. Such a bottom up versus top down approach results in a unique combination of authenticity and unified presence, increasingly rare commodities in an era ruled by data-driven models driving organizations toward undifferentiated homogeneity.
As a strong antidote for that particular ailment, personal brand has the power to re-shape today’s human resource infrastructures by empowering organizations of every stripe and size to tap their most important resource—the people working inside them—to most engagingly and authentically communicate the essence of the place they spend a majority of their lives working.
Says Visual.ly Personal Branding Strategist and Executive Coach, John Antonios, “the success of a company in the new world of business is solely dependent upon its individuals!”