Employees as change agents

Employees as Company Change Agents

Companies live and die by the strength and believability of their brands – what they want their organizations to be known for.

But in this digital age companies are struggling to control their brand essence and key messages as information – both good and bad – is shared across social networks around the globe in a matter of seconds, often diluting the power of their brands.

New technologies are transforming the way companies do business. But employees are underutilized as advocates of change. They are not being motivated to rally around the company’s mission and goals.

It’s not an overstatement to say that business transformation and a burnishing a company’s brand will only be accomplished by gaining the commitment of employees to drive growth and performance.

Internal Communications is Lacking

Companies are overlooking their most important advocates to the outside world – their own employees — because of a lack of internal communications. And this can torpedo a company’s reputation.

It is employees who are most often the primary interface between the company and its customers. But the media is an intrusive “partner” as reporters pounce on every bad piece of company news – often coming from the mouths of unhappy employees who are left out of the loop about important new company developments.

Online chat rooms and networking sites like Twitter and Facebook also provide a public platform for employees to vent their grievances. The media and customers are tuning in.

The key to ensuring success is consistency of communications to the right people at the right time with the right messages.

What’s Gone Wrong?

Internal communication efforts often fall short because:

  • Behaviors don’t match the message, especially senior executive behaviors
  • Communication is not viewed as an important process
  • Communication is blocked at many levels – up, down and across
  • Complicated and lengthy approval processes prevent timely distribution of information
  • Employees don’t hear things first, thus a loss of faith develops
  • Too much is communicated and more important messages are lost in the clutter
  • Employees are turning to their external message boards, the media and social networks for news about their own company

Getting it Right

Companies that find their employees relying on outside sources as their primary source of information have lost their most important change agents. It takes effort and commitment by companies to keep employees informed and excited about their jobs. But, if they do, employees will become the company’s most effective brand advocates.

Through regular communications, top management will help build an army of dedicated change agents working from the same playbook towards reaching shared goals for themselves and their organizations.

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Comments

  1. Employees keep an organisation going. They are the link between the organisation and customers yet how often do employees feel unheard, out of the loop, irrelevant? Employees must be kept informed whether they work at senior level or not. If you choose to keep people out, they will draw their own conclusion whether wrong or right. I do not agree with discussing work issues on social media. I find it unprofessional.

    • Phoenicia — unfortunately, employees often do feel out of the loop and I agree that social media is not the place to air their grievances but they feel they don’t have any access to top management

  2. Hi Jeannette. I agree that internal communications are equally as important as external comm’ns. Yet, most companies place far more emphasis on external comm’ns to potential or current clients versus internal comm’ns to their very important staff.

    • Doreen — so true. Yet employees are often their most important — or only — interface with clients so why not keep them in the loop? Makes you wonder.

  3. Brilliant and spot on, Jeannette. Companies are still in the industrial mindset of employees as a cost instead of employees as an asset. The leaders need to change their approach to employees and realize they’ve hired people with brains–let’s encourage them to use them and teach them about the company. Seems so logical.

    • RoseMary — it may seem logical to us but the bottom line always prevails. Management is more focused on headcount and not what those particular employees may be doing to advance the goals of their organizations.

  4. As you know, I agree with you Jeannette. Internal communications work much better in SME:s than large companies, above all multinational ones. SME:S hence frequently benefit from their employees being positive ambassadors for the company. Huge multinationals where the management is looking after themselves only, on the other hand, do have a problem. Until such executives change their attitude and behavior I’m not sure they will be able to benefit from what their employees have to say. Lamentable, but nobody respects excessive greed.

    • Catarina — huge multinationals have the added problem of communicating across different cultures and languages. They could do that if they delegated the responsibility for communications to senior management in far-flung locations but, unfortunately, they don’t.