Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Employees...Advocates or Badvocates

Let me set the scene for you:

Its Tuesday morning, 9 am. At a major Australian Financial Institution, some 28,000 bank employees (approximately 80% of total employees) are congregated around the hundreds of satellite-link television sets strategically position on every floor, of every building, in every state of their far reaching network of locations across this big brown continent. Music begins to blare out. 80’s video production values fire out from the screens and speakers of the outdated 90’s TV and audio equipment.
Spinning graphics, synth-music, flashing still photos. An introduction to rival any student-made news broadcast. Two presenters, shoulder-to-shoulder in a framed close up…
Presenter 1: Hi, I’m Kevin (actual CEO of said Financial Institution).
Presenter 2: Hi, and I’m Kevin (actual CFO of said Financial organisation).
Presenter 1: We’re the two Kevin’s here for your fortnightly TV update. How are you K2?
Presenter 2: I am good K1...and on it goes.
A tidal wave, no a tsunami, of smirks, sighs and shrugs sweep across the viewers, causing an undertow of cynicisms, that seems to have the ability to wash away for all of us (except for the most devoted of us employees), any sense of pride or morale we had in our company’s reputation and managements view of us as employees.

This is where I, and thousands others for that matter, work. And the questions that floods my thoughts, of course is, WHY?
Morale: Ok, yes I know, they are trying to keep their employees informed, in the loop, lifting morale. On Morale, I will just say this. Nobody likes working for an idiot that tries to be ‘your’ friend. Maybe, they should take a little look at the lessons to be learned from the great TV series (both the BBC and NBC versions) The Office. Nobody wants to work for Michael Scott or David Brent.

My main gripe with this type of de-motivation is this: Institution like this seem to forget that, at their disposal, every day, every work hour; they have great access to some very powerful marketing channels and voices that they will ever get the chance to use. Their employees! (I bet you thought I was going to say customers, didn’t you?).

Employees talk about their work. They have an opinion on your business, your management, your brand, your products and services. And they will tell people.
When you were last at a bar, a function or barbeque, what did you talk to strangers about? Sports? Television, Movies? Work? Did many people bag their work places or companies? Did many people recommend their company's services or products?

I am talking about treating employees with respect, providing them with opportunities. Get them to understand your business. You do not have to get them to love you, but you do need them to respect you. Give them a business, employer, workplace, products and services they can be proud to work for, talk about, and, hey lets not be stupid, RECOMMEND! ADVOCATE! Instead of just seeing the customer as potential brand advocates, employees also have a very important role in advocating your brand.

An organisation with 35,000 employees, that’s a pretty large social network of friends, family and acquaintances. Its great to get your customers to be your business advocates, but we don’t have the time or strength of relationship with our customers that we have with out employees.
Do you want you employees to be your business’s ADVOCATES or BADVOCATES?

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