At the Internal Branding and Employee Engagement conference, Timothy Connelly, Best Buy’s director of internal brand communications, shared how common values help to motivate a young, diverse workforce — and how video helps keep four values at the forefront:
- Have fun while being the best
- Learn from challenge and change
- Show respect, humility and integrity
- Unleash the power of our people
I followed up with Connelly after the show to learn more about how those four points are communicated throughout the organization. Here’s an edited version of that conversation:
Was there a conscious decision to let departments do their own thing, within a framework of shared values? Who’s ultimately responsible for ensuring that a bunch of “silos” function within that value framework?
Employees are encouraged to use their strengths and follow their passions to drive the business. As you can imagine, that leads to a highly decentralized environment, but it works because we have a “true north,” which is the company’s values. When we’re talking about internal branding and employee engagement — convincing employees to learn, love and live the brand — the values really do hold us together.
Best Buy seems to do a lot of employee communications via video. Why is that?
Employee communications folks all know we’re competing for our employees’ attention with a wide variety of media — social media, smartphones, TV, movies, radio, video games, etc. So the key really is to meet them where they are and convey our messages in a way that cuts through the noise and makes them want to listen up.
Do you think there’s any particular advantage to delivering bad news in a video, rather than in print?
The ideal for delivering difficult news, of course, is face to face. But when you have 180,000 employees across the country and around the world … it’s not possible for one or two leaders to talk to everyone.
When the economic downturn did a number on our business in 2008, our leaders opted to deliver difficult announcements via video — a manner that got as close to face to face as possible. … Employees could see that decisions had been difficult to make, and I think the approach created a pretty strong sense of “we’re all in this together.” That’s our culture. We couldn’t have properly supported our values with an impersonal e-mail.
Does video work especially well because Best Buy has such a young workforce?
It’s really a matter of figuring out what approaches work for your audiences and using the most effective methods; again, meeting them where they are. Our employees skew young, so virtually all of our communications, and certainly our video, is pretty edgy and irreverent. … Would the same approach work with audiences of doctors, longshoremen or insurance salespeople? I’d imagine their videos would probably look and sound different but could obviously be very effective.