Employees, who have their own opinions, intimate experiences and their own platforms through social media can be your best brand ambassadors. It is up to your managers and directors to work with them in a way that excites, inspires, engages and connects them to meaning.
Here are 4 ways to engage employees in a way that sustains and grows your business and represents your company’s values.
1. Find leaders within. Consider the talent you already have before you hire. The minds with the most intimate knowledge of your operations—what works, what doesn’t and what needs to be improved—are found within your company. To make this work, find employees who are making key, day-to-day decisions throughout the organization’s divisions. Engage with them. Solicit their ideas for improvement and their solutions for problems your company faces. This is the fastest route to results, and it shows your workers that you believe in them and what they are capable of.
2. Foster communication, contribution and collaboration. When employees work on one task, in one area, their view of the company becomes narrow and their understanding of what you are trying to accomplish is limited. You see this too often in big companies, but even smaller companies are not immune to tunnel vision.
Foster conversations across divisions and discipline areas. By calling meetings and brainstorming sessions that serve as open-source discussion platforms, you will encourage cross-pollination across departments—finance, client services, marketing, production—that results in an influx of new ideas and solutions.
To put the best of these ideas into practice, task your managers with creating practical action plans. Then, incorporate these plans into the overall company strategy. Sharing these plans through internal communications further builds value, identifying employees who are making an important contribution while sharing best practices across the entire organization.
3. Build trust and delegate responsibility. Find a way to pass responsibility between all levels in every work group. Distribute duties and have different people take ownership of different initiatives. Employees can stretch their minds in ad hoc projects assigned to them outside their mainstream positioning, and are uplifted by applying new knowledge to unexpected frontiers. They then see the organization from a fresh angle, trusting in the company’s commitment to seeing them succeed in a broader scope.
Put people with passion to work. Encourage them to bring their personalities into their projects, even when their style of action is completely different from yours. If you see that a particular assignment makes a difference in people’s hearts, there’s no better team for the project. This approach is particularly effective among millennials. By earning their trust, employees will be more motivated to bring their passion to the table, and apply this passion in ways that will push the business forward.
4. Reward your people. Reward for performance. In reviews, create milestones that will allow you to encourage and show recognition, creating a direct link between your human capital, their positive performance, and sustainable overall success. Also, reward with public recognition, which is, in many ways, more important than compensation. Share the employee ideas that have been adopted by the company—and recognize the teams and individuals responsible for the ideas and their successful implementation. Provide opportunities for people to share their thoughts, present ideas, and share innovations, values, and action with colleagues. With employees recognized and valued for their contribution, they in turn become integral team members, advocates, and—your best ambassadors.