Internal Ambassadorship to Increase Employee Engagement Level

Business world, specifically in service industry, has seen recent years with the coming of engagement era.  Most of us have heard phrases such as Customer Engagement, Engaged Leadership, and Employee Engagement

Engagement seems to be the recipe for success now.  In customer service arena we have often replaced excellent service with engaging service now (for your information, customer engagement concept titled Engage Me was first introduced by Bryan K. Williams (www.bwenterprise.net) in 2007).  In leadership and management ground we are now forced to conduct an engaged leadership.  The word engagement has been replacing excellence, and excellence has been redefined to equalize the emotional capacity the word engagement contains.  Excellence is now not only about possession of good quality in high degree, it is now claiming the existence of its missing link, a continuousness. 

Now, when we speak of the concept of employees’ happiness, the word happy is not enough but should be replaced also by engagement.  It suggests that when you’re investing in people, you’d better not be content with your paradigm of happy employees create happy customer, and soon transition to the new one which is engaged employees create engaged customers.

 

Why Engagement?

Engagement is heavily about connection, strong one.  It is a much needed prescription for any business aspiring to be customer-driven after what happened to the world post 9/11 where humanity is tearing apart it has become very sensitive and vulnerable ever since.  People have been scattered apart in diverted ideologies against each other.  What used to be normal is not necessarily normal anymore.  The world has a new name, New Normal World – first introduced by Dinah Day of The Image Circle, New York, in 2004, to term the permanent change in anyone’s personal relationship with anyone else (including your employees and your customers).  It leads to the change in personal competencies required by every company in the world.  And business-related competencies required by the business world from the people today are those of connecting the disbanding pieces, such as better listening skills, more attention to proper attitude, more flexibility, and more considerate behaviors.  In short, people have to be engaging in order to survive in any profession now.  And for companies, they have to invest in creating engaged employees to guarantee great results.

 

Why Ambassadorship?

We have witnessed in average organizations their motivation-related efforts.  To keep employees happy we know of some good programs such as staff party, staff outing, staff loan, etc.  Employee of the month is usually aimed to elevate motivation in working harder, and training facilities are no doubt for increasing human asset value, capacity, and loyalty.  The question is why do average organizations stay average?  Why is turn-over still high?  Why are profitability and employees’ salary still average? 

Clearly, those efforts are not really engaging employees, or not anymore after sometimes.  Some organizations find employee of the month has turned into a queuing occurrence.  He’s been here for a long time and hasn’t been chosen once, and he’s quite good, let’s vote for him.  Staff party and outing have been merely a recreational break to get to know more about each employee and their families.  Staff loan is even worse.  No, we can’t fire him; he still owes much money to us.  What should average organizations do, then?

World-class organizations have all the funding for developing the best employee engagement strategy and increasing the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees.  But what about average organizations with an almost fifty-fifty ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees?  For the ratio they are having now have caused them financially feeble circumstances.  And it’s very much impossible for them to engage in any kind of investigation with a consulting company. 

Reading on employee engagement you will notice that it is not only about human resources initiative.  It is highly related to interventions.  But, if you can’t have a good consulting company intervene, why not drive your best employees to do so?  Fully engage them, so they can be engaged, then assign them as internal ambassadors and let them be virus for their colleagues.

 

The Procedures

According to Gallup Management Journal (www.gmj.gallup.com), there are three types of employees.  First, engaged employees who work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company, they drive innovation and move organizations forward.  Secondly, not-engaged employees who are essentially “checked out,” they’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time – but not energy and passion, into their work.  And third, actively disengaged employees who aren’t just unhappy at work, they’re busy acting out their unhappiness, every day these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

Internal Ambassadorship is an approach based on the surveys conducted by Gallup that show that engaged employees are always a very slim majority in average organizations.  First, you have to identify your engaged employees (the members of the slim majority) through a process suitable with culture, policy, and procedures in your company.  An ambassador a department might be enough, though once again it depends on your condition.  Once chosen, you can arrange an agreement with the ambassadors, stating that they are now the agents of change that carry a big mission to improve employee engagement in your premise, and they will be rewarded accordingly by the end of ambassadorship contract.

While the earlier mentioned motivation-related efforts (staff pasty, staff outing, etc.) are sometimes still necessary, internal ambassadorship program is a few best influence the bad ones strategy, excellence-focused and more positive in the outcomes and sustainability if done carefully. 

 

Important Considerations

Conducting an internal ambassadorship program means that you’re doing an employee engagement development yourself, without help from a consulting company like Gallup.  While the program is very much relevant with the principle of fair treatment, it is a prospect with some risks. 

First thing first, you have to make sure that you will choose humble stars which are also influential idols.  Because once you’ve chosen a high performer, who is arrogant and high privileged, you’ll end up having an ominous political mess filled with disdain and despise.  You have to do a peers research first – a bottom-up approach which is very critical in employee engagement.  Never rely solely on the performance, but realize and relate to what happens to people when they decide to buy something.  They trust peers more than TV commercials.  We can learn something from this point.  Think that employee engagement is your product and you’re selling it to most of your employees.  So, make sure your ambassadors have a very respectable sociability for other employees to cooperatively listen to and follow them.

Second thing that you have to consider when executing an internal ambassadorship program is that you have to offer significant rewards to the ambassadors once their mission has accomplished measured results.  This has to be mentioned from the first place.  Something like advancement in career of salary level will do you good.  The third is about public openness where you always let other employees know at certain levels that you have a special relationship with the ambassadors.  This is to plant the idea in the minds of other employees that in order to get that special attention they have to conduct themselves like the ambassadors do.  Next, you have to provide a special budget for supporting every program the ambassadors have in their agenda within ambassadorship calendar (normally a year per ambassadorship cycle).  And the final two things to consider are about not to micromanage the ambassadors’ activities during their ambassadorship, and not to forget to always praise every success your ambassadors achieve.

Finally, internal ambassadorship program is not something without risks.  You have to be prepared when faced with a situation where some of your ambassadors do nothing.  Carefully pay attention to new things to consider.  You are dealing with human beings.  Thus, any consideration you have in mind has to have the ground of touching the hearts of your employees.  That is what employee engagement is all about.

(Perriz Azwir, Managing Director of M+)