Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Your Brand: A Guide to Finding Your True North

Personal Branding

If I stopped and asked your co-workers to define who you are in the workplace, would I get the same answer from all of them? Would I receive a well-defined answer, or would they describe you as "detail-oriented...a team player...helpful"? These terms, although certainly positive, are too vague. There are hundreds of "detailed-oriented, helpful team players" in the world, but there is only one YOU.

So how do you stand out against the crowd?

Let's think of an example together: if I say the words Coca-Cola, what comes to mind? If I mention Dolce & Gabbana, what do you think of first? These two organizations have something in common: a brand.

A brand defines who you are in the workplace and how you contribute to your organization. Knowing who you are as a person (*cough cough*) can help you define who you are in the workplace and what you can offer. Once you know your brand, you can use it and a True North Statement to help you make the right decisions that will be beneficial to you and your future goals.

Your True North Statement

A Short Lesson in Lean Six Sigma

When you are working in an organization, you should always know what it is that you are trying to achieve, and this is known as a True North Statement. It helps organizations to drive in one direction to achieve goals, versus trying to do everything all at once.

For example, a hospital may have a True North statement that includes the following phrase: "to assist our families so that they receive high quality health care in a respectful and timely manner." If the hospital were to consider making a change, they would want to ensure that it positively reflects their True North statement. Would a laboratory update assist with giving high quality healthcare? Yes. Would a pinball machine in the lobby do the same? Probably not.

True North and the Workplace

Once your brand is developed, you can then apply it as a True North statement to ensure that you are on the right track. Speaking from my own experience, I am much more knowledgeable about facilitating events than I am about SQL queries. So if I were to apply for a job that listed SQL queries as a background, I would need to remember what my True North statement said about me. Am I going to succeed in this position if it requires me to do SQL queries? No. If a position were to become available regarding training and development, would I be able to successfully lead a class? Most likely, yes.

Your True North statement helps you find the positions, special projects, and volunteer efforts that will reflect well upon you. Doing this will help to clarify exactly what your co-workers will say about you when asked. Want your boss to know that you are a charitable person? Volunteer to assist with your organization's next Charity 5K Run. 

Your Mission (Should You Choose to Accept It)

Grab a piece of paper, and write down the phrases that you think best describe you. Write down anything that comes to mind. Then, after you have exhausted all of your efforts, sit back and see if you see any familiar themes. These themes will begin to represent your brand. Write down a brand statement using these themes at the top of your paper.

Once you have these themes, think about your future goals and what steps you would need to take, knowing your brand, to achieve them. Write down anything that comes to mind. This is a great tool to help develop an idea of what potential future careers you may want. Keep a lot of space in between your goals.

Now that your goals are separated, go back to your brand themes. You will see that some of them relate back to your goals, and some may relate to other brand themes. The more connections you have, the better of an alignment you have between your brand and your goals. Connect your brand themes to your goals (or other themes). Use the example below as a guide. Next, think of a sentence or phrase that will represent what you need to do to accomplish them. This will be your True North Statement.

This should help you to visualize who you are, what you want, and how your brand will help you succeed in making your goals!

Your Brand and True North Statement: An Exercise by Wesley

Thanks for reading this post! Please challenge yourself to complete this exercise. It should really help you develop a better understanding of your personal goals. 

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