No wonder TCS is a superstar company. They know their own people are the real stars.
— October 30th, 2019
(Main image: TCS Superstar Romain Malick on his six-day marathon across the Sahara desert)
As a melting pot of experiences, beliefs, abilities, goals, and challenges, an organization derives its strength from the uniqueness of its people.
And as it matures, a distinct sense of identity emerges. Much of this evolution happens from within; from people respecting each other and understanding the uniqueness of their colleagues.
Humanizing our brand
Similar thoughts crossed our minds when we started our employee storytelling campaign #TCSsuperstars in Europe. We wanted to find out more about our people, understand their nuances and recognize their achievements. At a time when huge corporations are perceived as overwhelming and soulless, our aim was to put faces forward and humanize our brand.
Starting off the campaign, it felt like we were in exploratory mode to discover the inspirational interests and pursuits of people. We were looking for reasons and ways to ‘celebrate our people’ and bring them closer together as a community.
Calling stories for this campaign, we encountered a wealth of narratives inside. There were several colleagues who embraced daring pursuits or overcame major setbacks to taste victory.
For instance, few of our colleagues were ultra-marathoners running grueling races such as the six-day, 251 km Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert or the 246 km Spartathalon in Greece. Others made their mark by championing charity or by representing diversity initiatives at the national & international level – thus making a significant mark in society.
Some of our colleagues even realized their childhood dreams like mastering flying, being an acclaimed author or by becoming an established sportsperson representing their country.
Stories of positivity; linking to values
Unveiling our #TCSsuperstars, we slowly streamed these stories of sportsmanship, perseverance, altruism and hard work on our internal, social platform ‘Knome’. These stories were hugely popular with our internal audience. People liked, shared and commented on these posts.
What I liked the most was that each story brought out a compelling message from the superstar at the end which connected to our company values of ‘leading change’, ‘excellence’, ‘integrity’, ‘learning & sharing’ and ‘respect for the individual’. Many of our colleagues felt that they could relate to or connect emotionally with these narratives since they came from people like themselves.
Sensing these initial sparks of success, we explored further and reached out to our partners at ‘Alive with Ideas’ for support. Our stories were then consolidated onto a new campaign site (external): www.tcssuperstars.com. As a token of appreciation, our superstars received a branded ‘superstar’ box with gift items.
Each wooden ‘superstar’ box contained a pin badge, keyring, crystal star award and a certificate signed by the CEO along with a personal gift connecting to the story of the superstar honored. Lately, we’ve been turning many of these stories into video format, giving a voice to our ‘superstars’ to explain their interests and achievements for a dose of extra motivation.
Pondering on this campaign
Looking back at this journey, I consider this campaign to be an amazing testament to the power of people to arise and achieve when circumstances so demand. When the idea for this campaign came up, I was unsure of what we would find in terms of the quality of life experiences and lessons. But I’ve been bowled over by what we’ve encountered inside in terms of the sheer number and variety of experiences. And I’m thoroughly convinced that we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg!
A Harvard Business Review study on motivating people explains that encouraging people to bring their external interests to work helps in creating ‘tribes’ sharing ‘sameness’ or ‘common purpose’. According to this study, having these highly connected and engaged tribes within an organization can stimulate strategy and innovation in the company.
Likewise, throughout this campaign, we saw people sharing interests and aligning with each other based on common themes such as running, photography, charity, diversity, leadership etc. In other words, people came together as ‘tribes’ and this inter-connectedness and peer recognition were inspirational to watch and witness.
Considering the size, spread, diversity, and dynamism of an organization such as TCS, I’m sure that this pilot program has the potential to go further. Storytelling is an age-old practice and good stories have a big voice. We are delighted to have used the power of personal stories to bring people together– fostering collaboration within while championing our employees and humanizing our brand.