We’re a family at RG. And like a family, life isn’t always harmonious.
Sometimes things go wrong, they break or fail miserably and we sweep the pieces under the rug and move on. No one needs to know that it didn’t work out. But let’s face it. It’s not a perfect world.
So when I was brainstorming on a new communications campaign to try and show our value in a truly tangible way, it was this notion that stuck with me. It really hit home when I learned about a global wine company called Torres Vineyard, which has a little Black Book of Torres. It’s not a list of contacts, like you might think, rather it’s a list of black marks - mistakes, really, that the company has made. And on the last page, at the time, was written by their CFO noting a £200k loss after he’d failed to listen to other executives on a decision.
I found this incredible. A company executive being wholly transparent about his decisions and what he had learnt along the way.
Just like at Torres, we can recognise mistakes happen at every company, in every business. But how could I bring this to Reward Gateway? Having this as one of our core values, I talked with our Communications Director about what I’d seen happening at Torres and how I thought this was the only way we’d truly live our value and accept we are human in every instance, whether good or bad. The Be Human campaign was born.
Whenever a mistake is made, the person responsible writes it up in our Be Human community. It’s easily accessible on Boom!, our internal communications hub, right front and center along with our daily news updates, weekly video briefings and other company announcements. What’s more, we share these black marks - our Be Human transparent acts - with all new recruits as part of the hiring process and during induction to show them that it’s okay to be human here, it’s okay to make mistakes. It shows that we are truly transparent in all that we do and sends a powerful message that everyone makes mistakes.
Leading by example was really important in the delivery of this campaign. I decided to own it and be the first contributor to it. My learning to share with everyone was to remember that we’re passionate about what we do and speaking up, giving feedback or calling out when things aren’t as you like shouldn’t be taken as a criticism by anyone at all, it’s a sign that shows how much we all care.
This was followed by posts from people from all areas of our company. Liam Jones, our Content Editor, learnt a very important lesson which I’ve shared with you below:–
“I'm certainly human, just ask my mum. After the acquisition of API, we also inherited the API Lifestyle & Leisure magazine. In my role as editor of the magazine, I told everyone that we needed to replace every reference of 'Gift Card' with 'Reloadable Card', in the October/November issue. Now, I wasn't aware at the time that Reloadable Cards aren't allowed in Australia by law. They use Gift Cards. That meant that the magazine was then sent out to roughly 12,000 members telling them to use a product that didn't actually exist. To rectify this, we have published an entire section on how to use all of the discounts products in Australia – and it will be included in the December/January issue of the API magazine. I'd like to think that this mistake has given our API members a clearer understanding of how our great discounts work for them – despite the initial confusion!”
What could be more powerful in transparency than you admitting to your errors, sharing your learning and being totally honest about it. All of us are being presented here with an opportunity to promote and develop our honest and transparent communication strategy and to show that we are human and to be human is not a weakness, in fact it should be celebrated. That’s why I chose to display the Be Human responses on our platform. And since then, people have shared mistakes ranging email marketing errors to presentation faux pas to a person in Bulgaria thinking Dev was the name of a person in our London office, rather than understanding it was just the nickname for our Development Team. I’ve seen leadership team take part, and front-line employees submit, too. And I’d like to think that as people submit their black marks and mistakes, they realize that they’re contributing to our open and honest communication values, too.
By aligning a campaign with our values, my coworkers are more likely to take notice, and continue to internalize our company values. On the road to fostering more engaged employees and strengthening our employee engagement strategy, this is a small step that will have a lasting impact on our workforce.
Mistakes happen, and we can either cloak them, let them fall by the wayside or we can value them, talk about them and share what we’ve learnt. It’s said that every cloud has a silver lining - and it’s very true, every hardship to us can be a teaching for everyone else to treasure.
For every value you have, there’s a campaign waiting to be created. What’s yours?