Small Business Management Techniques for Turning Employees into Brand Advocates
Management is one of the most important and versatile skills that small business owners need to cultivate in order to keep things moving in the right direction in all aspects of their business. Among the many benefits of positive management technique is the ability to inspire others with the message and branding of your business, allowing them to take the reach that you would otherwise have and stretch it out over a much larger base of viewers.
Ensure that employees understand where they fit in to the larger picture of your business. Unhappy employees are often employees who simply don’t understand what they should be doing. This can also lead to employee disputes that break the morale of everyone involved and put a mental strain on even those who are not part of the spat. Make the time to check in with your managers on a regular basis, but remember that micro-management is not a solution either. Instead, small business owners should aim for a happy medium where they are making sure everyone on their team is aware of their appointed task and working on it in a constructive way, checking in again when there is another project to handle or at an appointed time that their employees may want to work out with them.
When you have motivated employees, you can speak to them about brand advocacy. Preventing the opposite of brand advocacy, which is bad employee behavior that winds up getting associated with the brand through social media or other methods, should be a first step for business owners when they are hiring, clearly defined in a social media policy. When you have employees who you have groomed to the point that they are committed and engaged with your business, you can start to work with them on brand advocacy. Being a brand advocate means sharing the mission and awareness of the business with those who they interact with outside of work. Brand advocacy can mean anything from wearing a shirt or putting a bumper sticker on their car, to having employees actively speak to potential customers who they encounter. In general it refers to being a good example of the values of your business and being willing to speak candidly about it to spread awareness and garner interest.
You may want to incentivize bringing in referrals to promote brand advocacy. You don’t have to turn your employees loose on the world with a manic need to bring in business or else, but in the spirit of friendly competition you can create a program that rewards them for bringing in new business in the form of referrals. This program can offer reward in the form of a privilege such as winning extra vacation or a sensible monetary bonus, or it can be something that all of your employees will enjoy, turning the employee contest into a sweepstakes where everyone wins in the end with a new addition to the break-room or something of that nature.
Be sure to recognize the positive efforts of your team members. Even if all you do is offer them a personal thank you, make sure that you recognize when someone is going the extra mile to contribute to your business. Otherwise, it is highly likely that all of the enthusiasm built up in your team member will begin to manifest less and less in direct action. Letting someone know when they are doing a good job helps to build on their positive forward momentum, and is also simply the right thing to do as a manager.
Photo Credit to Phil Whitehouse on Flickr