Every communications professional has seen this happen. You work hard to develop a strong, reputable brand, the brand voice and the brand promise. You create brand standard guidelines and you build out a tool kit for staff to use when creating documents, presentations or in any communication of the brand. You generate great media coverage where your CEO, President or GM hits the key messages and positions the brand well.
A success, right? Not so fast. Then a client, customer, guest or patient shows up to the frontline and no one delivers on the brand promise (#EpicFail).
A great brand and brand reputation have to be brought to life through the actions of employees. They have to deliver on the brand promise. But to do that, they need to be engaged – and the brand promise needs to “belong” to them. An exceptional brand is developed through the consistent, long-term actions of employees. Great marketing, ads, social media and PR campaigns are damaged by a cranky staff member, an employee who doesn’t return calls or e-mails in a timely fashion, or someone in your organization commenting negatively on social media about your product, services or another element.
Engaging your employees as “brand ambassadors” and helping them to deliver on the brand promise is a worthwhile investment for an organization. Making a strategic decision to engage employees in this way happens over time. And you need to be consistent in these efforts.
Here are the steps for creating brand ambassadors.
Step 1 – Survey
Develop an internal (and anonymous) survey to see where engagement currently sits. This will give you a benchmark so that as you move forward, you can identify where you have improved and what still needs work.
Step 2 – Identify Influencers
Identify key employees who are influencers, community builders, outliers and even skeptics and create an employee engagement advisory panel. Don’t just pull in managers and people you know will agree with you. Bring in those who will challenge the status quo – find out what they think and why. Ensure you have a range of employees and that all areas or departments are represented.
Step 3 – The Advisory Panel
Provide the results from the survey – keeping necessary information confidential – to the advisory committee. Work with them to identify the key areas that need attention. Choose one or two areas to work on – don’t try to change everything overnight. Create an engagement plan based on the areas and through a town hall meeting, an all staff meeting or another approach (online meeting, etc.) – share the plans with staff. The advisory board should meet monthly.
Step 4 – Internal Communications
Creating an internal site on your intranet, where employees can ask questions, provide feedback and communicate with each other, is always a good idea. Building your internal community and engaging employees is not a “top down” process.
Step 5 – Measure
Measure your success to ensure you are on track and continually improving. This goes back to the initial survey, as well as defining other key measurement elements and key performance indicators, and setting your goals and objectives. You need to know what you want to achieve in order to measure your progress. And measurement must be a key element of your internal plan.
Step 6 – Celebrate Successes, Address Challenges
Share your wins and challenges with staff. Keep them involved and informed. Meet with the advisory committee once a month, at a minimum. They will be the ones who will help spread the word internally.
Remember: without employee engagement, your brand promise is just words on paper and is of no use to anyone – especially your clients, customers, guests or patients.