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How videos sell values at Best Buy

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.