Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Spark

A few days ago I came across this picture on LinkedIn, and shared it along with a comment that it holds true in my opinion and is equally, if not more, true on social media also.

It had a lot of Likes and Shares and a few comments, far more so than any other photo or link I've shared, so I thought I'd reflect and comment more on this.

It strikes me that often, but not always, passionate people can be both seen and heard. That doesn't mean they're extroverts, it just means you can easily identify them. They get their job done but, more than that, they're engaged with the organisation and you can hear and see it.

There is plenty of published work on employee engagement and how and why employees become engaged, and how you can spot it. To me, it's the same as love. If someone is in love with another person, you can tell. If they've fallen out of love with someone else, you can usually tell too.

And whilst I've promised I will blog more on the subject of falling out of love with an organisation, and I intend to, I'll touch on some themes here particularly as they relate to social media activity.

Passionate, engaged people can be seen all over social media. Often they're engaged with their subject matter, or with connecting to other people. Often, too, they are engaged with their employer - and if they are, you'll see a combination of these things:

- The company name in their username / handle
- The company name and/or their position in their bio / description
- Regular mentions and tagging of the company by them in their posts, and often vice versa
- Regular promotion of the company's activities by them, even as passively as liking or retweeting the official company Twitter account (and the same on other SoMe channels)

And then sometimes it can all stop, as the photo alludes to. These passionate, engaged people overnight stop doing some of the things they have been doing and don't start actively trashing the company or being openly negative about stuff, but their silence speaks volumes and the absence of positive brand promotion is noticeable.

Something, somewhere, has gone badly wrong in the psychological contract between employee and employer.

And what really surprises me is how few employers and leaders in those organisations seem to spot the engaged people going quiet.

How it takes them leaving to really get it to sink in that there's a problem in the organisation.

How frequently those employees are explained away as sulking or trouble, and no attempts made to work with them to recapture the passion and engagement they once had.

There are plenty of employees who are ALWAYS quiet. There's nothing wrong with that although if it's all the organisation that can be problematic. But when people who've previously been fantastic brand ambassadors suddenly begin distancing themselves from the organisation and its brand, not noticeably at first but soon noticeable by the lack of activity, its a sign of wider issues.

I can relate to all of this and I'm sure you can too.

How employees relate to the organisation in public, and nowadays this mainly means via social media, is important, and managing the employee experience and engagement via social media can be as important as the customer experience and engagement, and just as damaging to brand image and reputation if ignored or poorly handled.

What causes these previously passionate people to go quiet? To disappear into the organisational shuffle and blend into the background?

It can be many things. A change in job duties or job role, a perception of unfair treatment that goes unresolved, a new manager, a change in senior leadership or Chief Exec with a different style , an office move, a new policy they have fallen foul of, or anything else.

And then you'll see them change. They've fallen out of love with the organisation and they just don't feel like retweeting the corporate account, or sharing and liking the company Facebook and LinkedIn posts. You might find it difficult to spot any mention of the organisation in their profile. You won't really know they work for that organisation any more.

Yes, they'll turn up. But their fire has gone out.

Sooner or later, they'll leave. But in their hearts, they left some time ago.

A question for you is do you care enough to do something about it?

Is trying to reignite the spark in the relationship worth the effort, or is it better to cut your losses and move on?

But here's the thing. If you can do it with one person, they'll do it with others. They'll pass it on. Though it sounds cheesy, the love will spread virally, and all of a sudden, those people who lost their passion for the organisation have once again become the on-brand ambassadors they used to be.

What better way to spend your marketing budget?

Till next time…

Gary

Ps in other news, the wedding is now all paid for and is just three months away. Everything is finalised and there's very little for us to do now, except turn up… I'd best get writing my speech…