I’ve been blessed with having worked with thousands of companies and I especially love when I get to work with a company that instills a sense of pride in every employee so as to essentially make them organizational ambassadors. How does this happen? To me it is a few key elements that make the difference:
1) Have a Compelling Mission & Vision. It’s hard to get employees excited about representing the company if they aren’t excited about what the company does to begin with. Take Zappo’s, for example, they sell stuff over the Internet, but that’s not all that exciting, is it? Unless they define their mission as “To Live and Deliver WOW!” and they get all employees focused on a “higher purpose” of “creating happiness” for customers – and in the process, for themselves.
2) Link Every Employee to that Mission & Vision. At The Container Store they have eight core values that drive their mission. They don’t just put those on a poster and hang it in the hallway. Instead, they get every employee excited about the role they play in delivering those values for the organization. For example, one of the values is “Man in the Desert,” which is an analogy that they share as a riddle. They do skits about this in their orientation program. “You come across a man in the desert. He asks for water. Is that all he needs?” The answer, of course, is “no.” The man needs shelter and transportation and perhaps a hospital visit. The same is true for every customer the employee will ever ask to help…
3) Reinforce Behaviors that Reinforce the Mission & Vision. At Disney, they have hundreds of ways to reinforce employee behaviors that directly link to the company’s mission and vision every day. For example, if they catch you using a guest’s name (which required you to get the person’s name to begin with), they will give the “cast member” a candy bar or an extra five minutes on their next break, all the way up to their “Partner’s Award,” their highest honor that cuts across all levels and functions in the organization to acknowledge those employees that most personify Disney’s values.
Having employees act as ambassadors for your organization might seem like a pipe dream, but the idea is very achievable if you take the time to focus well – and on an ongoing basis – on the bigger picture of your organization’s mission and values.
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