When your employees leave at the end of the work day, what happens? Do thoughts of their work and projects evaporate as soon as they leave the building? When their friends or family ask them about work, what are the chances that they’ll receive more than a one-sentence answer?
This kind of compartmentalization is an all-too-common tale in today’s workplaces. When employees feel more like cogs in a machine than valued team members, their engagement begins and ends at the office door.
It’s Time for a Fresh Perspective
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. What if you could have employees who were genuinely excited about what your company does, so much so that they carried their enthusiasm and engagement into the rest of their lives? Today’s workers are more socially connected, more tech-savvy, and more culturally literate than ever before, and the vast majority want to be part of something important.
Your employees want to be challenged, they want to care, and they want to be part of a team doing meaningful work.
One of the best ways to create this new narrative of engagement at your company is by incorporating the principles of brand ambassadorship into your training.
What is a Brand Ambassador?
Brand ambassadors embody the essence of your company’s identity. Their values align with your company values, their goals match the principles of your company mission, and they are excited about everything that you want your customers and clients to be excited about.
Often, companies will bring on celebrities as their brand ambassadors—think George Clooney sipping Nespresso or Ellen Degeneres promoting COVERGIRL makeup products—but simple celebrity is never enough. Ellen’s page on the COVERGIRL website, for instance, describes the accomplishments that initially made her famous, but at the end there’s an important shift toward values: “Ellen is also deeply invested in humanitarian causes ranging from animal rights to global warming,” it reads. “Ellen’s shining, charitable personality combined with her radiating beauty make her an inspirational COVERGIRL.”
A brand ambassador, famous or not, provides a likeable, inspirational, human face for the values that are most important to your company’s brand, and they improve your company’s exposure and reputation by sharing those values via their personal networks.
The great news (especially for companies that can’t afford to partner with major celebrities) is that every one of your current employees has the potential to become a powerful brand ambassador, and it all comes down to training.
How to Implement Brand Ambassador-Style Training for All Employees
Here are three tips for incorporating brand ambassador-style training for your regular employees, that will help to increase engagement and improve outcomes for your company.
1. Speak to them as Individuals
Brand ambassadors are valuable precisely because of their individuality. If you want your company to seem vibrant and interesting, you need to bring out the vibrant and interesting parts of your employees.
To do this, make your training (both the initial onboarding training as well as ongoing professional development trainings) personal and individually relevant. Take the time to develop trainings that are customized for different roles, rather than having generic, all-encompassing programs.
Malcolm Knowles, the pioneer of modern adult learning theory, pointed out that adults learn best when they understand why and how the information they’re learning is directly relevant to their daily work. This individual attention will make your employees feel valued and important, increasing their level of engagement and loyalty to your company.
2. Prioritize Ongoing Development
One of the best ways to challenge your employees is through ongoing talent development. Providing opportunities for professional growth will motivate your employees to improve and make their work seem more urgent and valuable. People tend to perform per the expectations laid upon them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have more to offer.
Professional development programs can reveal enthusiasm, drive, and initiative that may have been hidden before, so set the bar high in your ongoing training efforts, and let your employees know that you expect great things from them. The more your people can take pride in and ownership of their work, the more they will support your company’s mission as loyal and excited brand ambassadors.
3. Share Your Company’s Marketing Goals and Strategies
When Gallup asked over 3,000 randomly selected workers whether they knew what their company stands for and what makes their brand different from competitors, only 41% of respondents answered positively. If more than half of employees don’t even know the fundamentals of their own company brand, then how can they be expected to be excited about their work?
To remedy this, involve your marketing team in employee training. Cast a vision for what the company values, where it wants to go, and how everyone’s work contributes to that group goal. Not only will this give your employees the vocabulary necessary for explaining the value of their work and your company to others, but it will also make them feel like part of a team doing important work.
Take Thoughtful Action
You don’t need a celebrity-sized budget to have powerful brand ambassadors working on your team—all you need is a company culture that encourages growth, engagement, and motivation for the people already working with you. Give some thought to these three strategies and to what will work best for your company, and then begin building a training and work environment where all employees can be proud and vocal advocates for the work they do.