Communication & Your People Plan: How to Turn Employees Into Advocates

Great business plans require great execution. Whether you’re implementing a plan for a fiscal year, a specific initiative or in response to feedback from an employee survey, you’ll go further, faster if you successfully engage employees in the process.

After development of the plan itself, the most important task is to connect your business strategy with your people strategy. That connection will help you determine how the plans will impact employees. Will they they need to do their jobs differently? How does their day-to-day experience in the workplace change? Will the change impact or influence how they feel about working at the company? 

Obviously, it will require communication to involve employees in any goal. But what if you want to take it up a level and create a workforce of employees who strongly support your goals? In that case, you’ll need to create a culture of employee thought leaders who will act as advocates. 

Here are five tips on communicating with employees in a way that will motivate them to become advocates and champion your cause.

1. Invite the right people to the planning process  

If you are supported by HR or internal communicators, change management professionals or others to communicate with employees, be sure to invite those resources to your planning table as early as possible.

With their set of expertise and responsibilities, they will be able to make recommendations on:

  1. Most appropriate timing
  2. Potential impact of other initiatives that are underway or recently adopted
  3. What has worked in the past for similar initiatives
  4. Potential challenges with understanding or acceptance by employees

By being privy to these insights early in the process, you’re more likely to develop a plan that will resonate with employees.

2. Ensure that plans match your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) 

An effective EVP aligns the entire work experience: talent retention, culture, performance, productivity and innovation. Your EVP shapes employees’ overall view of the company, emotional connection and level of discretionary effort on a day-to-day basis.

The workplace changes rapidly and constantly. Employees often adapt and deal with it. However, changes that impact the EVP will pose far greater challenges to your business, including:

  1. Loss of competence
  2. Less innovation
  3. Declining productivity
  4. Lower motivation
  5. Increasing costs

When implementing a plan, consider the impact it has on the EVP. Questions to consider:

  1. Will the plan change the work experience? The rewards? Other employment factors?
  2. Will the changes be positive or negative to most employees?
  3. What actions do you need to adopt the organizational changes as a part of your EVP?

By evaluating these questions, you can ensure that you mitigate some of the risks.

What if we don’t have an EVP? You have an EVP, even if you haven’t defined it. Because your EVP is an expression of what it’s like to work at your company, that experience already exists. To document your EVP, start by doing your research to learn what employees value about their work experience.

3. Be transparent about what’s happening 

Explain the why.

Communicating for the sake of communication alone is not transparency. Communication that is considered transparent:

  1. Is shared, even if it’s bad news
  2. Does not avoid mentioning that decisions have not been made or to say “we don’t know”
  3. Addresses rumors before they run rampant
  4. Delivers bad news, when necessary
  5. Is sent on a timely basis when the information is fresh and most relevant
  6. Explains how decisions are made

Employees are more likely to trust information they receive if they believe it is accurate are getting the full story.

4. Create an employee ambassador program 

In order to get buy-in from employees, you’ll need to offer opportunities for them to be a part of the process. Employee advocates are also called influencers, employee ambassadors and employee champions.

No longer can messages be singularly controlled by leaders, or people at the top, because employees want to co-create messages and ultimately, their work experience. 

The most powerful influence on employees is other employees.

As such, finding a way to hand employees the microphone and communicate alongside you will help increase the success of any message you share. Employees can participate in peer-to-peer communication as internal advocates which prepares them to act as an authority on corporate goals and internal programs.

Why Employee Influence Works So Well

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, we have twice as much trust for “someone like me” as we do in leadership. Therein lies the power of peer-to-peer action, communication and influence.

In addition to higher trust from colleagues, employee influencers are strong communicators because they:

  1. Speak the same language as their peers
  2. Are able to motivate employees
  3. Can collect employee feedback and share it with decision-makers
  4. Know their job role and the realities of their part of the business
  5. Can offer to be an extension to centralized communication efforts by helping manage office, country or regional differences — including localizing and tailoring messages
  6. Help provide more authentic messages
  7. Observe and provide insight on who is resisting changes and why

5. Pivot your communication and add value by taking jargon offline  

If reading that headline made you roll your eyes, you’re not alone. If it confused you, you’re not alone. Yet, with today’s standards, it hardly set a record for overusing “buzzwords.” Somehow when it comes to discussions about business strategy and plans, jargon becomes overwhelming. 

Jargon and other buzzwords evade critical thinking and allow its users to dodge explanation. Buzzwords and phrases lose their impact because they are used so often, sometimes in contexts that don’t make sense. Think: engagement, alignment and adding value.

They can also create confusion rather than cohesion. Jargon-filled language can be alienating to anyone who isn’t familiar with the office lingo. 

Make a commitment to speak and write clearly.  The plainspoken truth is most effective. Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Airlines, admits that he didn’t know the difference between “net” and “gross” for several years and appreciates when financial matters are explained simply. “It’s far better to use a simple term and commonplace words that everyone will understand,” he writes.

In closing   

Successful implementation of business plans requires an engaged army of employees who are ready to commit their best to help the company evolve. Considering these tips to create strategic communication will help your employees to become advocates towards achieving company goals and organizational changes.

At Talmetrix, our advisory support plan can help you create action plans tailored to your needs. Reach out to our team at info@talmetrix.com to see what plans may be best suited for your team.

Comments are closed.