Why and how to cultivate brand advocates among your staff

Generating internal enthusiasm for your organization—and turning employees into ambassadors—requires collaboration from multiple departments. Here are steps for doing so.

The struggle for companies to stand out and remain relevant is a daily grind, a constant quest for a competitive edge.

Your employer brand is a key ingredient in securing that edge. Your employees contribute significantly to your business success.

Whose responsibility is it to champion the employer brand? Marketing? HR? PR? Internal communications? The lines separating these departments have blurred, but that doesn’t mean turf wars are inevitable.

You become a liability if you waste time squabbling to secure influence and fighting over who does what. The employer brand needs a consistent, cohesive, collaborative champion.

Shift from obsessing about brand ownership to improving consumers’ brand experience and perception. This calls for three steps:

Step 1: Collapse the walls between communication disciplines; build bridges instead.

Step 2: Connect new bridges between external- and internal-focused brand partners.

Step 3: Pursue consistent collaboration throughout companywide communications.

For instance:

  • Marketing and PR lead external brand experience efforts (customers, guests, investor relationships)
  • Human resources and internal communications lead internal branding initiatives (employee relationships)

Employees want to be treated as valued members of a vibrant community. They want to rally behind a mission that reflects their own values and ideals. That’s where communicators can motivate their colleagues to rally around the organization’s common goals, putting them at the center of an organization’s mission and overall story.

Employee storytelling needs a new hero

Marketing and PR pros already capitalize on the power of storytelling to enhance the customer experience. Internal communicators, too, must use stories to connect with the wider employee community.

Here are three essentials to set you on the right path:

1. The roles

The hero: Starting out as a candidate, the heroic employee undergoes a transformation through experiencing, connecting and learning at each stage of the journey in the organization.

The narrator: HR and internal communicators create stories from the organization’s perspective, giving the employee ample opportunity to be a hero. A committed narrator continually reviews the organization’s script to ensure the employee is doing meaningful work.

Critical areas ripe for regular review are:

  • Recruitment marketing
  • Employee selection
  • Induction, orientation
  • Job descriptions, role design
  • Organization, business performance communication
  • Employee performance management and assessment
  • Meetings and internal messaging
  • Learning and development activities
  • Employee engagement and advocacy

Savvy HR and internal communicators use a variety of styles to share, reinforce, change and narrate stories relevant to the employee community.

2. Setting the scene

The stage: The organization’s culture.

The quest: To fulfill the organization’s purpose and help employees achieve personal dreams and professional aspirations.

3. Story crafting

Consider two aspects of storytelling: listening and connecting.

Ensure that your story has been accurately received; storytelling without listening is merely self-serving broadcasting. How did it make your audience feel? Did your employees take the action you intended? How did you enable your employees to share thoughts, feelings or ideas?

Listen intently to what matters to your employees, so you can reframe the organization’s stories in meaningful ways. Authentic messages that resonate with personal values and aspirations will motivate employees to devote their energy and passion to the organization.

As for connecting, once you have discovered what matters to your employees—their strengths, interests and aspirations for personal growth—you must then carefully align the employee’s story with the organization’s purpose.

Employee storytelling needs a remarkable new hero: you.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Alive With Ideas blog.

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