Over the next few weeks many of us will be crossing off items on our holiday gift lists, closing the books on a long 2011, and getting together with those most important to us. Blood pressures will run high, but so will the merriment.
During this dreaded beloved holiday season, the inevitable “what do you do again?” will come up in conversation. If you are guilty of not knowing exactly what your uncle/mother/cousin/partner does with his or her life, join me in raising your hand. It’s not disinterest; it’s just that many struggle to articulate exactly what they do for 40 + hours a week.
That struggle likely stems from, at least in part, from uninspired employee communications and lack of pride and excitement in what one’s organization actually does. Beyond our close relatives and friends, this lack of understanding about one’s professional purpose could rub off on customers the wrong way.
Think about your own interactions with a company’s customer service department. Who hasn’t commiserated with a salesperson about “those people” behind the “ridiculous” fine print/contract? Or overheard the grumblings of employees talking about “the man” while on shift where they work? Unfortunately, these cases are all too common and reflect poorly on a company. But the frustration is understandable; knowing or feeling left out of something you put time and effort into can lead to major dissatisfaction – and this is true for CEOs as much as cashiers.
There are several case studies where great internal communication directly affects a company’s bottom line. Social media marketing expert Paul Gillin recently offered a few examples of these companies, as well as his own rules for creating great employee brand ambassadors. In a way, creating employee ambassadors is about leadership. It might be likened to teaching an illiterate person to read and write. Basic, yes, but tools that are incredibly helpful and empowering in one’s daily life. By keeping a “brand army” informed and in the loop with a company’s mission and new business initiatives or products and services, you are empowering them to feel more knowledgeable of the organization’s mission. Knowledge is power, and enabling future “leaders” is directly linked to self-esteem and job performance.
So this holiday season, employees and employers alike should think about how to make 2012 the year of employee empowerment through better internal communications. If you are in a leadership position, think about what you could share to make your employees more excited to talk about their job at the next holiday party. If you are an employee, think about recommendations you can make to your employer. Make it the year where everyone remembers what you do and who you do it for.