Preventing Love’s Labour Lost
By Valdi Pereira –
Few people are aware of the enormous contribution William Shakespeare made to the English language. During his time as the king of poets he minted some 1 700 new words, including emotionally loaded elements like ‘savagery’, ‘swagger’ and ‘obscene’ – all powerful manipulators in the right context.
You may ask, what has this little lesson in etymology, got to do with entrepreneurship? Why is it even important? The relevance is found in the fact that Shakespeare created the means for his customers, in this case users of the English language, to express themselves in new ways. He lifted human interaction and the ways people could distinguish themselves from others through the use of language.
Is this any different to what some of the leading social media brands have done today? At their core, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram are little more than vehicles which allow self-expression. To be fair, their business models are complex and there is lot underpinning the elements that allow this expression.
What is the overriding entrepreneurial lesson we can learn from this? We learn that by forming an emotional connection with customers or allowing them to channel emotional energy through your offerings is critical. We have all seen enough images of happy smiling families selling soap powder, to understand the power of emotional connections.
A combination of value, fulfilment, uniqueness and individuality of experience is the cornerstone of successful offerings and companies; it has significant implications not only for your business model, but it also requires careful thinking around the character of the individuals you employ to take your organisation forward.
It is an issue I have wrestled with tremendously over the years. Finding capable individuals who can sustain the emotional connections the business has built and ideally contributed to it, probably pre-occupies as much of my time as any other aspect of business.
I have distilled my experiences in this space into three key points:
- You need to get as granular as possible, with the background and skills of potential employees, as you can. It becomes even more critical to do this in a small organisation where poor team member fit can reverberate across the company. Ultimately you need to be satisfied they can serve your current company needs and your future vision.
- Any behavioural dissonance on your part or that of your leadership will kill the drivers of emotional connectedness faster than any actively disengaged employee ever will. Remember you still set the tone and approach.
- Ongoing blended learning and development models are critical for success. This doesn’t need to be as complex as it sounds. Simply ensure you set aside regular time to review work and experiences with team members. Maintaining emotional connection can mean your team members need to assume a multitude of identities during the course of a single day. Employee engagement can become diluted in this context and you need processes in place to consistently address this.