If you want to change employee behaviour for the better, internal influencers are the way to go. You might not be able to convince all of those with a negative outlook, but you can find the people with an affinity for their jobs and connect them to those who are having a hard time. The big bosses aren’t the only influencers.
Business transformation has traditionally been associated with large, drawn-out initiatives. Today, companies are moving towards a persistent set of small, orchestrated changes to drive lasting change at the company. While every business has its own unique vision and path to fulfilling their vision, incorporating change is almost always a must. These small changes, when made continuously over time, have a compounding effect that drives transformation. This is referred to as microchange management and is based on human motivation and behavioral theory. It uses a synchronized combination of cues, nudges, and suggestions, along with targeted rewards and recognition.
Regular communication, without overload, is the foundation for successful change or maintaining a positive status-quo. A workforce needs to understand why change is necessary, what the goals and benchmarks are, and what the benefits will be. Internal Influencers, also known as Department Influencers, are an often-untapped resource. They can emphasize a sense of purpose and belonging, a community that’s inclusive for all employees.
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” Seth Godin
What makes someone an Internal Influencer?
Influencers are different from company ambassadors. The latter are usually high performing employees. Internal influencers don’t need to have the best performance record. They do typically have the following attributes:
- Strong relationships with the people around them. They are a source of contact when an individual needs information or assistance.
- They do not see department silos as a barrier to engage with others.
- They are up to date on the latest news amongst frontline employees.
- And can convey messages in a friendly and conversational way.
How to identify an Influencer
This is typically a role for HR with Senior Line Management as their guide. There are a few methods available:
- Evaluate who’s participating the most in team meetings, and who is organizing team outings.
- Survey the employees. Example questions are:
- who would you ask first for help?
- who makes you feel most at ease?
- Ask employees to identify who is the most social person in their department or in the company.
What can Influencers share that builds a stronger community?
As the employee experience becomes an increasingly important priority for leaders, those responsible have an opportunity to influence the broader people agenda. Developing an internal communication strategy is key to having these conversations. It helps you create a consensus on how your internal communication function should support your company’s vision and purpose.
As a general guide, Influencers can successfully communicate within the following content boundaries:
- Employee news and event updates
- Tips, Tricks, and Techniques on how to get something done
- Department achievements and high-profile project updates
- Uncovering what options employees value most on any topic
With the right digital tool, you can measure the reach, rate of acknowledgement, and impact these communications have as an ongoing guide for improvement. It’s important to note that not everyone can be a good influencer, including those who may ask to be involved. Some individuals might be very cynical, or quite unengaged which makes them potentially disruptive. HR should advise in this regard, but this can be somewhat mitigated if there’s a good effort to identify the right candidates.
How to get the best from your Influencers
It’s important to give them visibility, learn of their insights, and engage with them on how they can keep adding future value. As with any other employee, recognition for their contributions always goes a long way. If they are having a marked impact on specific Employee Experience indicators, then this becomes a great way to measure their success and attribute recognition.
Champions and ambassadors are often self-nominated, whereas influencers are peer-nominated. This gives them the gravitas to shape company culture and help drive change more efficiently. Giving them a voice and say in how the company connects with its employees builds trust in the overall effort they are part of.
Effective communication supports knowledge management, spreads insights, and helps people exploit their talents. Employees throughout the business can now engage with different topics and think about things in new ways. Micro communications, or microblogging, makes regular communication easier and can prevent content overload. If we think about business transformation as a persistent set of small, orchestrated changes, then Influencer communications should be optimized in the same way.