Five myths about employee ambassadors that are flat-out wrong

Maybe “flat-out wrong” is a little strong. But I hear them nearly every time I’m speaking about ambassador programs.  I’m sure you can cite examples in which each of these myths is true. That’s the way it goes with employee engagement. Every company has a unique culture, leadership and talent. Nothing ever is in stone.  So considering all those caveats, here are five myths about employee ambassador programs: All employees should be ambassadors. And therefore, goes this myth, there’s no need for a dedicated ambassador program, is there? In fact, as internal communicators, isn’t everything we do to create employee ambassadors? Well, yes. And no. Yes, that’s our lofty strategy, but no, it’s just not possible. That’s because engaging every employee in your company’s story is about as likely as making org announcements sound interesting. Truth is, you have a narrow group of highly engaged employees – probably about 10 percent, if you’re lucky – and a broad swath of disengaged employees. Focus on the engaged employees who can influence those disengaged employees. This brings us to… You can’t find your truly engaged employees. Of course you can. Think of your own team. Don’t you already know who’s engaged, influential, talented and someone others want to follow? Well, there you go. Or just ask for volunteers. There’s one thing we know about disengaged employees: They’re not looking to add work to their plate. Only your engaged employees are willing to give you the discretionary time you’re seeking. Ambassador programs have to be sponsored by top leadership. Obviously, it helps to have the CEO at least involved – if not...

Why I left a dream job

I didn’t just have a good job; I had a great job, the stuff of every employee’s dreams: Energizing, smart boss? Check. Growing company? Check. A team I loved working with? Work I cared about? International travel opportunities? Check, check, check. So why in heaven would I leave? Last year one of my mentors asked me a question: “What are you saying with your life?” I posted that question on my bulletin board at work, so I would keep it top of mind. I answered it every day with the same actions: working long hours, recovering on the weekends, rarely seeing cherished friends or family. It wasn’t the company’s fault; it was mine. Fueling the introspection, my 85-year-old mother was living in a foster home on the opposite coast, battling the final stages of Parkinson’s disease. Dementia was creeping in, and she obsessively needed to tell every family story to her most adoring audiences in her final years. So I asked myself another tough question: If my mom passed today, would I say I was a good daughter, even a good listener? It was time for a change – and not just a small one. So I quit the great job I had. Friends, family and colleagues told me I was either crazy, courageous or both. I was scared as hell, but I knew it was the right decision. On my final day in the office, I sent an email about why I was leaving.  The subject line:  “And Then …” I explained it was time for me to go and listen to my mother’s stories.  Three months later, in...