Rock Star or Reality

Business 2nd February 2016

The past month has seen us say goodbye to 2 Rock icons, with the passing of that master of excess Lemmy Kilmister, frontman of Motörhead and the enigmatic genius David Bowie.

It got me thinking about how different these successful artists were in their approach, with Lemmy totally living his image and Bowie creating multiple personas over his decades in music.

In business, can a consistent or a regularly changing image be equally successful?

How do you portray yourself to your clients? Do you create a persona or take a “what you see is what you get” kind of approach? Do we want to be seen as something we have created or as authentic and genuine?

Business is littered with re-invention, the rebrand and the adoption of the “emperor’s new clothes”. What clients want is reliability, predictability and a relationship based on respect and trust. The relationship between the employer and the employee is very similar, representing a mutually beneficial relationship. So can a business actually deliver to its clients and employees what it states on its shiny new tin?

A few years ago I was involved with a major acquisition and the Company we purchased came with an excessive amount of emotional baggage, based on a failure of the employer to develop a trusting relationship with their employees. The main characteristic displayed by the Management was antagonism, displayed perfectly at our initial meet and greet session with the trade union representatives. We had been greeted in an oak panelled board room, filter coffee on tap and a decadent display of leather chairs and French polishing. We enquired about the Union reps and were told they were in another room, it even had a number! A sixth sense told us we should find the numbered room and introduce ourselves, without being shepherded by our hosts…… what we found was shocking. We were met by suspicion and mild hostility by 12 Union reps in a small room containing 3 chairs and a small table. Anything we needed to know about the employer – employee relationship in that business was in full view. Our response was to engage with the Union reps, move them to a larger room with sufficient chairs and provide drinks. The process of defrosting the relationship had commenced.

Treating employees disrespectfully gives them a licence to treat the customer in the same way. Whatever our brand or our image says about us, the key to success is in being the genuine article. If we paint our faces and become Ziggy Stardust or we don a leather jacket and bullet belt as latter day outlaws, we need to live up to that image. As employers our staff should know what to expect from us and our clients will value the comfort of understanding what we are about and what they will receive when they engage with us.

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It’s our pleasure to keep our clients happy

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