How Leaders Can Created Informed Employees

Part 1 of 3

Employee Knowledge

Your employees are your lifeblood, and as a leader, one of your most important tasks is making sure they stay happy and productive.

There are thousands of techniques you can use to boost employee satisfaction and output, but one of the more overlooked options is creating informed employees.

Informed employees are more likely to become engaged employees. They feel ahead of the curve, valued, and confident in the direction your company is heading. As a result, they’re more likely to be loyal, spread positive cheer about your brand, and feel more personally invested in the work they do.

Knowledge Is Power

It’s easy to get caught up in the need for speed, efficiency, and frugality — and leaders across the globe are constantly searching for ways to cut costs and run lean. But employee satisfaction often takes a backseat in their attempts to do this, and making this mistake can have major negative effects on a company.

A survey of more than 300 randomly selected businesses showed that the lowest-performing firms were more focused on cutting costs and boosting productivity than on developing customer and employee relationships. Further, 45 percent of these low performers fell short of their net profit goals as a result.

When employees don’t know what’s going on, they feel much less connected to their companies. It becomes harder for them to do their jobs, they don’t feel any real urgency to create high-quality work, and their productivity declines.

Because they aren’t engaged, they’re less willing to collaborate with peers and go the extra mile. They become bored, start going through the motions, and check out.

What It Really Takes to Inform Employees

Informing employees takes more than sending cheesy, cheerful company newsletters and maintaining an office bulletin board. It requires transparency, creativity, and technology.

Use the following four guidelines to ensure you’re informing your employees the right way:

  1. Honesty is the best policy. Creating a culture of transparency is ideal, but it’s no easy task. Fifty percent of employees say that a lack of transparency holds their company back, and 71 percent feel their company fails to spend enough time explaining its goals. It’s up to you to empower your managers to take ownership of what they communicate. Tell them they need to honestly and directly communicate with employees, explaining the “why” behind every company initiative.
  1. Consistency is key. Be consistent and frequent with your approach, and always make it clear that communication is a two-way street. In a recent poll, 85 percent of employees said they’re most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news, followed by encouragement to ask questions and give opinions. If you decide to hold monthly staff meetings, stick to the schedule. Only cancel or reschedule them when absolutely necessary.
  1. Make it fun and easyMotivation and gamification strategies are great ways to increase engagement — and technology can play a major role in making informational exercises fun for employees. In one study, gamification led to a 48 percent increase in engagement and a 36 percent reduction in turnover. Perhaps you can create a fun video featuring executives, along with short quiz questions, to replace antiquated compliance trainings. Or you might create an app or immersive digital experience for performance reviews. With today’s tech, the possibilities are endless.
  1. Open your earsInformed employees must feel they have a voice. They have nothing to gain from hiding their insights from co-workers, so if you give them a platform to express themselves, they’ll be more likely to share and collaborate. The more informed they feel, the more likely they’ll be to share feedback on what’s working and what isn’t.

When you successfully keep your employees informed, you’re setting the stage for a more productive workforce — one that will ultimately return the favor and speak highly of your company.

Boosting communication and informing employees is just the first step. Next, you need to engage them to the point that they follow through with action.

For more on this, see Part 2 of 3 and Part 3 of 3.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
——————–
Russell Fradin

Russ Fradin is the founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal
He is a Digital Media industry veteran and an Angel Investor
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWeb

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Leaders, Turn Your Informed and Engaged Employees Into Advocates

Part 3 of 3

Leading a team of informed and engaged employees is extremely rewarding .

Everyone seems to get along, people are motivated to do their jobs well, and your business appears to be running like a well-oiled machine. (For more on that, see my Part 1 of 3 or Part 2 of 3 in this series.)

But if you stop there, you’re doing yourself and your team a huge disservice.

You’re missing out on the key next step: creating advocates.

Employee Advocates as First Responders

As a leader, creating a team full of brand advocates is beneficial for a number of reasons. Most of all, it adds a human element to your public relations. When your employees are the ones promoting your brand, your audience is much more likely to listen.

In fact, 84 percent of people say they trust recommendations from their acquaintances over those that come through traditional advertising.

Employee advocates are also your first line of defense against those who may be uninformed about your brand (or unhappy with it). In a social media-driven world where people are digitally communicating 24/7, this is especially crucial.

In one study, 56 percent of employees said they’ve defended their company via a public platform — and raising this number is the ultimate goal of employee advocacy.

Acting as a Brand Megaphone

The best employee advocates are proud, vocal, savvy, and educated about what they do. They take their jobs seriously and understand the importance of their roles — both within their departments and for the company as a whole.

Advocates are driven and career-oriented, and they place a high value on their personal brands.

Their ability to be vocal creates enormous levels of engagement. Not only do they show their enthusiasm for their jobs internally, but they also want to share their appreciation with the world.

That said, a love for the job isn’t enough. To be effective advocates, they must also get the proper guidance, training, and tools to share their knowledge with their audience of followers and connections.

That’s where you, as a leader, come in.

Creating Employee Advocates

Here are five techniques that will help you create employee advocates:

1. Put Parameters in place

Informed, engaged employees need to know what they can and cannot say about their companies on public platforms. For instance, someone might be dying to celebrate the positive outcomes of a corporate rebrand, but he isn’t sure whether it’s OK to share that information with the public.

To avoid this, create and distribute a list of best practices for communicating about the company, as well as a social media policy. This might seem like a no-brainer, but one survey revealed that fewer than half of all companies currently have policies in place. Without clear parameters, employees will likely share too much or too little, causing their advocacy to be ineffective (or to backfire).

2. Collaborate to Identify Goals

As you build your advocacy program, be sure to include your employees in the process. They’re the ones who will carry it out, so work together to determine your goals and definition of success.

For instance, are you looking to improve HR and company culture? If so, your ambassador program should be more internally focused. But if you’re striving to improve social selling and lead generation, then your program will be largely social and built on employees’ existing connections.

Either way, your employees have a valuable perspective that should be factored into your plans.

3. Incorporate Technology

To ensure ease of use, simplicity, and adoption, implement technology that supports your advocacy goals. Studies show that employees’ usage of social media, smartphones, and after-hours Internet directly correlates with their performance as advocates.

In addition, employees of socially engaged companies are 57 percent more likely to align social media engagement with more sales leads.

4. Level the Playing Field

To encourage participation, you must give employees a reason to opt in — and an easy method for doing so. Some employees aren’t natural advocates and have no interest in participating; don’t force them. That will only lead to bad things for both of you.

Instead, recognize and reward employees who are talking about your organization and spreading your brand’s message.

Create toolkits for managers to share with their direct reports that detail your program, the opportunities it offers, and the benefits of joining. Announce it during all-hands meetings, share success stories, and give employees more than one chance to sign up.

5. Dive Into the Data

Once you’ve defined success, identified measurable goals, and launched your employee advocacy program, make sure to continuously gather and analyze data.

Over time, this information will uncover what’s working and what’s not, and it will allow you to make necessary adjustments down the road to maximize your program.

Creating Positive Impact

Informed and engaged employees are prime candidates for brand advocacy because they’re already intrinsically motivated to collaborate and make a difference for your company. They want to have an impact on both your culture and your bottom line.

Employee advocates can be your most valuable assets — but it’s up to you to provide them with the framework and tools to get there. For more on this, see my Part 1 of 3 or Part 2 of 3 in this series.

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
——————–
Russell Fradin

Russ Fradin is the founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal
He is a Digital Media industry veteran and an Angel Investor
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWeb

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How Leaders Can Create Engaged Employees

Part 2 of 3

It’s every leader’s dream to have employees who ask what they can give to an organization rather than what they can get from it.

The differentiating factor between these two mindsets is actually quite simple: the level of engagement employees feel.

Boosting communication and informing employees is the first step (for more on that, see my Part 1 of 3 in this series). But engaging them to the point that they follow through with action is even more critical to a company’s culture and success.

The Perks of Engagement

When informed employees become engaged, their productivity, attitude, and willingness to collaborate all increase. This means they will do their jobs better and have a positive effect on their co-workers and work environment. Further, research shows that employee engagement doesn’t just correlate with bottom-line results — it drives them.

Disengaged employees, on the other hand, can be dangerous. Whether they’re in the wrong role or in the wrong company, they likely do not care about their work and will be detrimental to company culture.

Unfortunately, disengaged employees are all too common. Fewer than one-third (31.5 percent) of U.S. workers were engaged at work in 2014.

Shifting From Informed to Engaged

Engaged employees have a can-do attitude. In one study, 84 percent of highly engaged employees believed they could positively impact the quality of their organizations’ products, compared with only 31 percent of disengaged workers.

Here are five crucial leadership strategies that will help move your employees from merely informed to actively engaged:

  1. Keep it real. Be authentic — and make sure employees know you’re a real person. As a leader, it’s your job to set an example and demonstrate the highest moral standards and ethics in everyday life so your employees follow suit.
  1. Be accessible. Make sure employees can directly communicate with the C-suite. One study revealed that leadership is the primary concern of 90 percent of employees, followed closely by culture and engagement (86 percent). Being available for two-way conversation can do wonders for fixing this.
  1. Join in. Believe it or not, building trust in executives is more than twice as important as building trust in immediate managers. It’s crucial for you to collaborate with frontline employees to truly prove your authenticity. Get in the trenches to work alongside them.
  1. Make it matter. Give employees meaning in their projects so they have something to work toward and track progress against. It’s important that they feel they’re making progress on a daily basis, and they also need to see that their work contributes to the greater good of the company. Otherwise, they’ll see their work as meaningless.
  1. Say “thanks.” Recognition goes a long way toward inspiring good work from good people. Identify when employees go above and beyond — positive reinforcement will encourage them (and others) to continue doing so.

Adding Meaning to Work

Once you’ve informed employees about company goings-on, it’s time to engage them by adding meaning to their work. They need incentive and a means to take that next step, along with an understanding of why they’re asked to do the things they do and how it impacts their daily lives.

This isn’t something that happens naturally — you, as the leader, play a major role in making it happen. Once your informed employees become engaged, the next step is to turn them into advocates.

To build those internal advocates, stay tuned for the third and final part of the series. Check out the first part of the series Part 1 of 3.

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
——————–
Russell Fradin

Russ Fradin is the founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal
He is a Digital Media industry veteran and an Angel Investor
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWeb

Image Sources: sharkarkproject.com