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Nailing Your First 100 Days as an Employer Brand Leader

You’ve been handed the reins. The only problem is, everyone thinks you’re the white knight who’s going to solve all the issues in people management, talent acquisition and recruitment. A wall of emotions—wild ambition, abject terror, excitement and imposter syndrome—hits you before you even get to your first meeting.

Your first 100 days are make-or-break time. Soon, the big bosses will decide if you “get” the People plan (and can be left alone to run it) or if you’ll be micromanaged to death and asked to prove the value of every single tactic and expense. Confidence is built in these first three months—and this is your chance to prove yourself.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with new Employer Brand and People Team Leaders. We’ve seen their first hundred days either pave the way for stellar employer brands or crash and burn. Trust me, when it goes south, it isn’t pretty.

Here’s our guide for your priorities and the best use of your first 3 months. Dig deep, get everyone on-side, prove your worth and get ready to knock it out of the park with your new Employer Brand.

Month 1: Grasp the business

Diving straight into employee discussions might feel right. Many businesses think all they need to do is ask people what they want and then try to give it to them. But, as tempting as that sounds, it’s a trap. Starting with people skews the conversation towards material aspects of jobs (pay and benefits for example) that are front-of-mind right now. These levers are easy to pull (and immediately appreciated), but they’re easy for competitors to copy. And their impact on employee retention just doesn’t last.

We’d say understand the business inside-out first. That way, once you know what the business really needs, you can map talent needs and expectations to that.

Get under the skin of the business – Get some time with the C-Suite and key stakeholders who can outline the business’s vision, strategy, and future plans.

See how you stack-up against talent competition – Talk to your HR and Talent colleagues – they’ll know where they’re losing good staff to–and where they’re poaching them from!

Gain internal insights – Review the HR practices already in place – things like performance management, people communications and even how leadership ‘shows up’. Where are the gaps? What needs improving and what needs to be binned and replaced?

Now, you’re probably thinking, “this all sounds pretty obvious Andrew”. And you’re right. But many new Employer Brand leaders don’t get the time or the headspace to do it. Let me tell you: missing out on these key details will cost you later.

Month 2: Know your people

Only once you know the business, get to know employees—both existing and potential. Taking this ‘business-first’ approach shifts people’s focus from what they want right now, to what they need to build a happy, sustainable future for the business—and for themselves.

Listen to employees – Spend time with a cross-section of staff. Lump their feedback and experiences into four core areas: compensation and benefits, growth and development opportunities, connection and community, and meaning and purpose in their work.

Get a values reality check – Uncover whether the current values are understood and lived by employees. What do they really mean to people? Do they reflect the reality of working here? And how have they been shaped and reinterpreted internally?

Map the candidate journey – Assess the candidate experience from awareness all the way to hiring. Identify pain points and opportunities for improvement. Strive for a seamless and positive journey for potential hires. Think about how your new employer brand should be externalised for upcoming recruits.

Month 3: Bring it together

You’re almost there. You’re armed with insights from both the ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ sides. Now it’s time to start putting your plan together. The good news is that you’re informed enough to confidently talk about how talent can contribute to the business’s goals.

The bad news is that you still need to convince the exec team that you know your stuff and can make this project a massive success. They’ll love hearing about the competition. What they won’t love is the candid feedback from staff. Your findings will be ‘warts and all’ because perception is reality—it’s always better to understand and tackle the challenges head-on.

You’ve got a value story for each member of the exec team, something that speaks to them individually. Take the CFO for example, they’ll want to know about ROI. Think about communicating how this effort can improve the bottom line. The CEO might be concerned about shareholder sentiment. Here you can talk about how your work will increase awareness and sync with corporate communications. Your CIO or CTO might be worried about getting—and keeping in-demand tech talent. Your project will ultimately help on both counts.

Once you’ve got the green light from the powers-that-be, you can refine the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) based on your learnings. This will give your Employer Brand project firm foundations. More importantly, your understanding of what the business needs from its people (and vice versa) means your Employer Brand messaging will ring true. You’ll see connections formed and the best talent join, stay and contribute.

Your first hundred days are your one chance. Your opportunity to get under the skin of the business and its people. Not only that, your chance to prepare for the spotlight. This employer branding project could catapult you to fame internally—and even externally. Take your chance while you have it. Good luck!

Kick-start your Employer Branding Project with confidence.
Taking the reins on your Employer Branding is no mean feat – but it’s a little less daunting when you have the right tools.
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