BE IN TOUCH WITH
Director, Employee experience and communications
Your organisation has a brand-new strategy, and you need your personnel to turn it into action. No matter how great your presentation skills, a slideshow alone will not implement change. Instead, you need a dedicated group of employee ambassadors, who engage others and drive the changes you need.
Many organisations already know that strategies don’t implement themselves: you need to make a conscious effort to take them from the management team’s plans to every employee’s day-to-day work. In a modern expert organisation, where leadership and communication are part of everyone’s job, each employee can be seen as their own media platform.
Still, it can be easy for managers to forget that communication and leadership happen in the day-to-day work your people do. Strategy only becomes a reality when your people are talking about it in everyday discussions and implementing it in their actions. So, what are the people talking about in your company? And how do they talk?
You can increase leadership and communication with a little help from so-called employee ambassadors. They can share the message or your organisation’s purpose and practical goals to the entire organisation. This can be done within the organisation, but also externally. The most credible spokespeople are your company’s own experts who are relatable to the audience – the Edelman Trust Barometer (2021) will back this up.
There are more ways than one to act as an employee ambassador, but one thing is for sure: you can’t force your employees to do it. Perks and prizes will only get you short-term results. And if you’re hoping to magically inspire your whole personnel to become drivers of change, we have bad news: that’s probably a pipe dream.
You’ll achieve the best results by inviting and coaching selected people who have been identified as suitable candidates for the ambassador role.
So how do you successfully engage employee ambassadors?
Here are four key instructions:
We and our colleagues at Miltton have planned and implemented dozens of ambassador programmes in nearly all industries – from private and public sectors to NGOs, and from B2C businesses to expert organisations and heavy industries.
Based on our solid experience, we’ve identified three effective ways to design ambassador programmes and act as an ambassador: internal organisational developers, communicators, and thought leaders. In this piece, we will focus on the first one.
Internal developers’ work is guided by the organisation’s strategy. They help bring the organisation’s purpose, values and strategic choices into action in practice. The ambassadors’ goal is to help their colleagues find meaning in their work through linking it to the wider strategy. Meaningful work promotes the well-being of employees as well as the growth of individuals, teams and the whole organisation.
The ambassadors are selected or recruited among employees whose attitudes represent the change that the organisation wants to drive, and they will act as role models for the kind of behaviour that other employees should adopt. They are a diverse group of people who understand the organisation’s day-to-day life and challenges. They want to make a difference and make their work better and more inspiring for themselves, their colleagues and, eventually, for their customers. The starting point for all of these is the same sense of purpose.
It’s crucial to support employee ambassadors by coaching and training them. We recommend offering them a selection of tried and tested tools, including tools on how to influence people in a positive way and how to offer appreciation and presence to others. They are also invited to get creative with ways to bring about the change needed.
In the best-case scenario the ambassadors are engaged in co-creating content and methods for an internal training concept – and first and foremost, carrying out the concept in their teams and communities. A training concept usually includes scripts, communicative elements and tools such as workbooks, facilitation tools and videos. However, the most effective tool in the concept is the ambassador’s own example, excitement and position as a relatable role model.
A group of employees selected or recruited among your personnel are trained to
a) make strategic choices
b) identify values and/or
c) promote a culture of shared objectives.
The group is trained to identify, describe and strengthen the selected phenomena in the workplace.
Eemeli Koljonen is a pedagogue and leadership coach who believes that we can change the world for the better one encounter at a time. Word by word, action by action. From human to human. Here and now.
Esa Pamppunen is an accelerator of strategic culture who believes that people have endless potential – you just need to know how to unleash it. Countless ambassador programmes have verified his belief.
This writing is the first of a three-part series about employee ambassadors.
Are you interested in discussing what kind of employee ambassador program would suit you best?