true-falseMaybe “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:

  1. 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…
  2. 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.
  3. Ambassador programs have to be sponsored by top leadership. Obviously, it helps to have the CEO at least involved – if not enthralled –with an ambassador program. But what works just as well is getting a pilot launched with engaged employees and creating measurement that wows. Then engage leadership. They’ll listen to radical results.
  4. Don’t recruit new employees to the ambassador program since they don’t know enough about the company. Truth is, your employees are at their most engaged in their first six months on the job. So grab them early, educate them and create an ongoing engaged employee who is just as thrilled a year or two later.
  5. It’s all about social media. This one’s tricky. Yes, you absolutely need to train all of your ambassadors and offer them ways to share on their own social media sites. But many employees would say they don’t want to share their work activities on social media. That’s fine. Just give them other ways they can share or support your brand.

How about you? Are there other truths or myths you’ve heard about ambassador programs? I’d love to hear your thoughts.