Why Missguided launched cultural vibes as values

I have a crush on a brand. Over the past year I’ve been watching the Missguided Twitter feeds and LinkedIn updates from employees and marvelling at the way they communicate.

If you think internal communication has to be corporate and stuffy, think again. Prepare yourself for unicorns, hashtags and lots of Millennial pink.

From their baby boxes for employees going on parental leave to their innovative recognition scheme, I think their internal communication is some of the best I’ve seen. It’s fresh, engaging and makes me want to find out more about them.

Missguided’s purpose is to “Empower young women to look and feel confident.”

Whilst other businesses may have values, they have cultural vibes. Having spotted this fact via Twitter @Missguided, I wanted to find out more.

I’m delighted to welcome Glenn Grayson, @nofunlikework, (pictured) Internal Communications and Engagement Partner at Missguided to the All Things IC blog.

I’ll be honest, I’ve totally indulged my own interests in the form of this Q&A, so unashamedly, here’s our conversation so you can discover what they’ve been up to and why I rate them.

I also appealed via Twitter for questions, thank you to everyone who responded @AllthingsIC.

Q: Glenn welcome to the All Things IC blog, please can you describe what Missguided does and how many employees you have?

Holla, great to chat with you! We’re a female fashion business born in 2009 in Manchester. We currently have around 550 colleagues working across our HQ and retail stores in Bluewater, Stratford and concessions within Selfridges in Manchester city centre, Trafford and Birmingham.

Q: What role does internal comms play in your organisation?

Internal communication is just one part of my engagement role it’s there to create business conversations and keep messages flowing. It helps create a culture of two-way dialogue and feedback, as well as driving our engagement strategy. Fundamentally it’s about creating memorable Missguided moments for our colleagues.

 Q: What are your vibes and why do you refer to them as vibes rather than values?

As a business we talk a lot about sharing good vibes, so it seemed natural to use similar language for our version of values. A vibe can be described as ‘a person’s emotional state or an atmosphere of a place, communicated to and felt by others’; so, we believe a perfect name for talking about our people behaviours.

[ctt template=”1″ link=”UL5wW” via=”yes” ]Through our Missguided Vibes we also wanted to highlight and define what makes us different and discover the behaviours we need to get us ready for future growth.[/ctt]

Our Vibes are about doing everything with passion and pride (Love Lots); Empowering ourselves and others to be their best (Believe Always); Using ideas and innovation to lead the way (Dream Big); Collaborating and winning as a team (Win Together).

Our Vibes encourage self-empowerment, praise and recognition, pushing boundaries and having the right people around the table. They’ll be part of everyday life at Missguided, from our recruitment process, to personal development.

Q: How did you come up with those particular Vibes and did you involve employees?

We’ve been on a three-part journey starting with our interactive ‘Holla at Us’ listening groups. From these sessions we ended up with four very clear themes to explore further; love, empowerment, positivity and fun. The next phase was to connect with as many colleagues as possible, to discover why these words were important to them and the business, to do this we needed some help so introduced our Vibe Tribe (values advocates).

The second part of the research was our Vibe Weeks. These were about taking one of the key areas that had been highlighted, spending the week talking to our team about that behaviour. We did this through interactive activities including Love Notes, Love-O-Meter survey, smiley yellow men and the Ha Ha board to give you a taste. Capturing peoples’ imagination and getting them to share their honest opinion was vital and the process had to be a two-way conversation.

The final part of the process was using the Vibe Tribe to discuss with their teams the behaviours good and bad linked to each Vibe, as well as tweak the language. We also had to ensure the featured behaviours also included things we need to improve or would stretch us and wasn’t just all the good stuff we’re already doing.


Q: I know from our interactions online that you have some research behind the thinking, are you able to share those insights with my readers please?

To some, it may have looked like our research was ‘nice to do’ activities, or a bit fluffy.  However, throughout the whole process we were lucky enough to have the support from the Institute of Management, University of Bolton. They helped with our data collection, validated our research and linked our findings to the psychology around employee engagement.

“The Missguided Vibes campaign is example of best practice in articulating the culture and connecting employees with the mission and cultural values of the organisation. Central to its success was the establishment of two-way symmetrical dialogue through which the values were negotiated using authentic communication. Early indications suggest high engagement and impact.” Carol Brown – Organisational Communication and Engagement Specialist. Institute of Management, University of Bolton.

Q: How do you reward employees for living the Vibes?

One way is the introduction of a recognition scheme based on living our Vibes, where anyone can nominate a colleague for living a specific Vibe. Each quarter our Vibe Tribe will select who they think the winners should be. I think it’s important our colleagues have a voice as well as senior leaders when it comes to deciding who wins.

We’ll surprise our winners with a very Missguided moment, but you’ll have to watch this space to find out what will happen, my lips are sealed!

Q: Intriguing! What do your senior leaders think of the way you communicate as a company?

We’re lucky to be such a creative brand with a unique tone of voice. Our internal comms mirrors our external look and feel, which means you can have some real fun with what you say and how you say it.

Our often tongue in cheek tone is just the way we do things and is celebrated by everyone.

However, there is always a time and situation when we must tone down the emojis and hashtags to concentrate on serious messages.

Q: Who are the Vibe Tribe are how were they recruited?

The Vibe Tribe is a community of people that wanted to support in the research process. They were naturally enthusiastic people that had a voice within their team. We wanted people that were influencers and passionate about the business and this enabled us to reach more people and collate information in their language.

Now with the Vibes launched, the Vibe Tribe role will take a change of direction as they help embed our Vibes, share stories of success and inspire every part of the business to live them daily. Over the coming months we’ll look to expand the Vibe Tribe even further.

Q: How would you describe the culture at Missguided?

A: With a culture of empowerment at the heart of our business, we encourage every colleague to be the best version of themselves; actively pushing boundaries, continually learning and working as part of a team to deliver epic results.

Creating an engaging work life is super important too. Extraordinary colleague experiences (Love Island cast personal appearances, running club, beauty masterclasses) unique rewards (getting the chance to spin our Happiness Wheel) and exciting working environments (it’s true we do have prosecco and beer taps) are just a few examples of Missguided life.

Q: I have a question for you from values expert Jackie Le Fevre who wants to know: “I’d be curious to know whether/how he has ever had to communicate a values breech or betrayal”

When we discussed the behaviours and characteristics behind each Vibe our colleagues were also very clear on the behaviours they wouldn’t expect to see.

Each Vibe has four key behaviours that are not acceptable, and we empower our colleagues to call out each other if they see these behaviours creeping in. For example, if we Love Lots we’re not negative, we’re not half-hearted, we’re not unprofessional and we’re not gossips.

Q: IC pro Leah Bowden wants to know any tips for breathing life into some “pretty standard” values please?

Firstly, are your values still fit for purpose or are they merely a graphic on the office wall? I would suggest talking to your team, get their thoughts if they are still inspirational, relevant or driving performance, if not find out why and look to enhance them.

If this isn’t an option think about a refresh, change the look and feel of the imagery, include a more storytelling approach to bringing behaviours to life. Use your people to tell their story about living the values. Relaunch a value each quarter with a focus on building the energy and excitement from when they were initially launched. We plan to run ‘buzz weeks’ each quarter focusing on a different Vibe, keeping the energy high and allowing our new starters to have that launch experience.

Q: IC pro Paul Cawley would like to know the best ways to instill cultural values throughout the organisation? How do we get the most disconnected employees to LIVE our values every day?

I knew from the start to get buy in from our colleagues they had to be part of the process from the very beginning. 97% of colleagues were involved in the creation of our Vibes, so many voices were listened to. Our colleagues can see the journey we’ve been on and the part they’ve played in the creation, the process was happening with them and not being done to them. (I’m such an advocate of with not to people, it’s refreshing to hear this – Rachel).

We know embedding values is an organic process and will take time, so plan to keep them alive in every part of our day from the language we use to the way we structure a meeting, it’s always going to be on agenda.

There is always going to be a few people in any organisation that are disengaged, people may call this ‘not living our values’. The only way to overcome this is talking to them, whether it be coaching, honest conversations or listening groups, find out the reason for the disinterest and support them.

Q: You launched your cultural vibes at the end of June, what advice do you have for other IC pros who are working on their values? How has it gone so far?

Keep talking and listening to your people, the more feedback, the more ideas, the more suggestions the better. Its vital to let your teams know you’re on a collaborative journey creating something special as a team. This may take time (it took me 10 months) but will have more credibility and increased buy in with your employees compared to Values discussed and created purely in the board room.

Q: What’s not worked so well?

Our initial research told us fun was an important part of life at Missguided, so we explored this in more detail. However, when we delved deeper we found talking about fun came across as prescribed or forced. This saw a lower participation rate in our research activities compared to the other themes. This was useful in shaping our approach going forward and fun now doesn’t feature as a Vibe or mentioned as a behaviour.

Q: What do employees think?

A: Our last Employee Voice Survey told us 95% of team members care about the company.

Q: Wow that’s an impressive result! So if they care about the company, how does that play out in reality? How is that demonstrated?

There is a lot of love for the brand and people are genuinely excited to be part of something creative and unique. This comes across with people wanting to get involved, share ideas and work together to make a difference. Our colleagues are also proud of their working environment too, if you do a quick Instagram search you’ll see.

Q: Is there anything else you think I should know or you want to tell me?

I would say the key to this journey has been starting at the heart of our business with our people and keeping everything, we did true to our brand. We’re not a traditional fashion business so a traditional approach wouldn’t have worked for us.

Thank you Glenn, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your vibes first-hand. What do you think of what you’ve read? See why I rate them?

You can find Glenn on Twitter and Instagram @nofunlikework.

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 4 July 2018.

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  1. Katy Mason says:

    Excellent read. I love your vibes the love leaps off the page. No.wonder your team are so passionate as they are truly listened too and valued to create something special. Your brand screams out passion. Well done.x

  2. Joe Jones says:

    It sounds like they’ve done a great job of building a culture around those core values from the get-go, and representing and reinforcing those values in their IC.

    I’ve witnessed well-intentioned efforts to realign a team around values come unstuck when ingrained culture is at odds with them; I wonder whether there is some sort of ‘litmus test’ for whether, and in what circumstances, those efforts can be successful?

  3. Thank you for your comment Katy, they do leap off the page don’t they?

    Thanks Joe, I think you’re right, the culture needs to be aligned, or they’ll only ever remain words on a wall rather than actions.

  4. Adeeba Hussain says:

    Absolutely get why you’re in awe of the brand Rachel. The best job advert ever! It’s given me food for thought as I venture into creating my own personal values and brand, ‘vibes’ appeal to the inner Adeeba!

    They’ve achieved something most organisations can only talk about – well done to Glen and his team. When colleagues are part of the change journey they will inevitably find it easier to live and breath values and culture.

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