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Meriwether Lewis set the stage for the Corps of Discovery's success before one single "employee" had been hired. From the outset, Lewis and Clark engendered a communications culture that brought in the right prospects, then kept morale high and increased the productivity of those eventually hired.

More important, Lewis' communication culture not only outlined the day-to-day duties of Corps members, it imbued "employees" with a sense of mission and meaning.

He ruthlessly searched for just the right recruits. Lewis sought the strong, skilled, and eager, rejecting the weak, ignorant, and unmanageable. And through properly communicating his needs, he was able to get the people who could learn and live his "brand."

Prospects were told openly and honestly about working conditions: You will be in hostile territory, surrounded by hostile people. You must rely on your own devices for food and shelter. You could die.

They learned about benefits: "Great personal rewards will be bestowed upon you by a grateful government" if you are selected.

Lewis took his "employees" one step further: You will go, he told them, where no non-natives have gone before. You will help find the Northwest Passage. You will aid in the advancement of science, discovering new places, new species and new peoples. The mission is one of critical importance to the security of the new nation.

It was this open, honest communication of the emotional aspects, the meaning of the job that unleashed the potential of the Corps of Discovery as "brand emissaries."

Why Bother Communicating With Employees?

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Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR (www.hoover-ink.com). Reach him at harry@hoover-ink.com.