Every business owner wants (and needs) employees who are reliable and trustworthy, productive and accurate, interested in their work, pleasant to be around, concerned about customer satisfaction, loyal and focused on the company’s success. Let’s call them golden employees because they are worth their proverbial weight in gold.
Golden employees typically have healthy levels of emotional intelligence, and the maturity and professionalism necessary to perform well under most conditions, for most employers. They have an intrinsic desire to work hard and do their best.
Perhaps most importantly, these top-notch employees offer their employers something incredibly valuable: the potential to become company ambassadors. Ambassador, in this sense, describes employees who are such avid fans of the company they work for that they frequently sing its praises to customers, family, friends and others.
Employees who become ambassadors are worth their weight in platinum. They’re one of the best marketing resources a company can have, and they’re rather rare. According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the Workplace Report, 70 percent of Americans aren’t engaged in their jobs. The unengaged complain about their jobs to anyone who will listen, including customers. So it’s a big deal when employees spontaneously brag about their work and workplace to customers and anyone else they might encounter, both on the clock and off. The honest, unscripted positivity of company ambassadors is a valuable endorsement that boosts both a company’s reputation and its bottom line.
As noted, golden employees do what they do because excelling is innately rewarding to them. Turning them into ambassadors, however, is an extrinsic thing. Employees can’t become ambassadors by being asked to do so, or by having that role added to a job description. Employees become company ambassadors when they are inspired to do so.
Here are some critical sources of that inspiration.
Employees Are Inspired When They’re Treated Like Owners
Open the books, share concerns about the business and the industry, and seek their suggestions and feedback. The collective brain trust of employees is astronomical, yet leaders far too infrequently view employees as the valuable resources that they are. Let employees try doing things in a new way, and if it doesn’t work, encourage them to learn from the experience and keep moving forward. When profitable, recognize and thank your stellar employees with a bonus.
Employees Are Inspired When They Feel Trusted
Treating them like owners will get the ball rolling. Keep it going by empowering workers to make decisions, broadening their scope of empowerment as they earn it. Intelligent, dedicated employees become apathetic when required to get the boss’s OK before taking action to satisfy a customer. Employees also feel trusted when they have autonomy, aren’t micromanaged or second-guessed, and receive challenging work and new responsibilities.
Employees Are Inspired by Energizing Work
Employees who become ambassadors find their work challenging. They’re engaged and engrossed, and time flies by. Ask employees to list both the responsibilities they enjoy and feel they do best, and those they dread or find boring. Find ways to maximize the time they spend doing what they love and do best.
Employees Are Inspired When They Receive Frequent Feedback
Employees who do a good job need to hear this, often. And when an employee makes a mistake or uses poor judgment or otherwise falls short of expectations, a calm, constructive one-on-one conversation should take place within a few days. Bosses who wait for formal review time to pay a compliment or discuss a problem don’t inspire their employees. Top performers in particular thrive on frequent feedback. Schedule one-on-ones at least every few weeks, even for 15 minutes. Employees who become ambassadors know where they stand with their employer.
Employees Are Inspired by Great Bosses
Golden employees will only transform into company ambassadors if they have a great boss, whether the boss is a company owner or someone else. Great bosses are aware of Points 1-4 above. Plus, they communicate clear expectations, gladly answer questions, provide excellent training and make employees feel genuinely appreciated. Outstanding bosses have a sense of humor, don’t take themselves too seriously and take employee concerns very seriously. They hold everyone accountable, develop cohesive teams and don’t tolerate toxic or underperforming employees.
Employees with the potential to become ambassadors don’t expect perfection, but they do expect their leaders to treat them with respect and kindness, and to listen and have empathy. With enough of the right elements in place, many employees, over time, transform into ambassadors. Those who do feel valued, significant and proud to be a part of something exceptional. These platinum employees are walking billboards, shining a positive light on their employer and its products or services. When companies inspire their employees to be ambassadors, everyone wins!