There's a famous saying that goes something like, "integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is looking." It's like that old chestnut, "to thine own self, be true." In the past few days I've seen countless examples in places like hotels, at retail, in restaurants, etc... where individuals are performing their roles fine, then turn around and do something less-than-impressive (thinking that no one is looking).
Here's one example: "I was walking through a major retail chain in Time's Square today (the Manhattan one). The brand also happens to have a mascot. They have someone dress up like the mascot. Standing with the mascot is another retail employee encouraging the shoppers to, "come on up and get your picture taken." While I was waiting, I noticed that every time there was no one in front of them, the two guys were cracking jokes, talking loudly (even swearing) and acting unprofessional.
Listen, I know it ain't easy to dress in a costume for your eight-hour shift, and the temptation to futz around is huge. The problem is, the brand is now totally ruined for me. Done. The magic and everything. Here's why: I would have been impressed - big time - had these two guys maintained their professionalism (lived the brand) when nobody was looking. Instinctively, we all say to ourselves, "imagine what that guy probably does when no one is looking." We almost expect them to futz around. And that's the point. We are looking, watching and analyzing (and I know I'm not the only one), so the let-down is bigger.
We need to train the keepers of our brand to really live it (even if you're forcing them to wear a costume). If you look at the power of Social Media and everything that's happening in our Web 2.0 world, it's going well beyond the always on culture into the always watching and (more importantly), always recording culture. What would have happened had I caught these two guys using the video camera on my mobile phone?
Imagine what HQ would do if that little act was captured and posted on YouTube?
I'm not that cruel, and the intent of this Blog post is not to get two pimply-faced kids making minimum wage fired. The point is that someone is always watching (and probably recording), but that's not the main reason to do the right thing. The reason to do the right thing is because employees are the biggest brand ambassadors you have. A culture of pride, respect and compassion goes a longer way when everybody is citizen journalist.
Marketing is also about doing the right thing when nobody is looking.
Now more than ever.