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Why Employee Advocacy is NOT a Tool [Podcast]

Employee advocacy isn’t a tool, it’s a methodology.

To better understand this approach, I recently spoke to Elizabeth Jurewicz of the the managed cloud computing company Rackspace.

Have a listen on iTunesSoundcloud or keep reading for a summary of our conversation.

What prompted Rackspace to launch an employee advocacy program?

"First of all, I should say I’ve always had a passion for education, so earlier in my life I got the opportunity to be a second grade teacher. A lot of people asked me where I came into adult education, and I jokingly say that I’m not. I still, in my mind, I’m kind of teaching second grade and use a lot of those fundamentals. So I think I always naturally had a passion for teaching and when the need presented itself, I was just kind of quick to volunteer.

So there were two initial challenges that we were having on the social team. The first one is that it was really easy for people to dismiss the social team as just watching Twitter all day. And so there was really an opportunity for us there to start to educate employees about what our team was doing, how the social insights and feedback that we were seeing across the business could really help impact customer support, product development. So I think there was just a need to sort of educate about the potential and the value that the social team was bringing to the business as a whole.

And then the second part of that was as the social team, we were in charge of enforcing social guidelines and policy, and that kind of gave us a bad reputation as the social police. So at the time we did have a social policy but it was a piece of paper that a lot of employees signed on their first day of work, you know, with hundreds of other pieces of paper. And so when it came to actually using social media, there was a lot of, we called them "coaching opportunities". So there was a lot of coaching opportunities where employees unintentionally kind of crossed the boundary and so then my team would have to reach out and kind of correct that."

Do you find that employees in this program are more engaged in their jobs?

"Yes, absolutely. And I’m excited to add an anecdote from this morning.

So one of the teams that I’m working with right now is one of our technical storage teams, and intuitively you wouldn’t naturally think like, “Well, their storage team it’s very internal, they’re very direct customer focused.” You might not instinctively think that social media could have an impact on them, but their manager came through training. We had a really fantastic conversation and we started to realize that these storage experts are just a wealth of information that they’re not necessarily documenting and sharing.

And so a project that I’m working on with them right now is how do we take all this wonderful knowledge that these storage experts have gained through working with customers over the years and start to document it and share it publicly to be able to educate customers proactively. And it’s been really exciting to see that the technicians are all on board with it. They’re already brainstorming ideas. They’re even eager to create content and so I think that that’s just an example of you know by giving them choice, by saying, “Hey, we want this to be a value add. Let’s figure out what works for your team.”

How do you measure success of this program?

"Honestly, initially, when we were starting to launch training, it was just all about attendance. We were really trying to fill those classes and see if people had an interest for this. So initially, it was just tracking attendance, filling classes and then seeing if we could get a similar amount of people coming back to the second course. As I mentioned, I do an in-class survey to get employees’ impressions about training while it’s fresh and then I do a 30, 60, 90 day check-in with them to see what’s working, if they’ve had any exciting changes happen or kind of what they still need help with. So that’s been a really great way to kind of keep training fresh, keep it, make sure that it’s addressing the needs of the employees.

On the sales side we’re actually able to measure the social selling index, so the SSI, for our sales reps, so that is another piece of data that we add in to sort of seeing the progression of the program. And it was really exciting I think just a few weeks ago LinkedIn highlighted our Rackspace UK team as one of the top ten companies in regards to our social selling index. So that’s been really exciting to see. But then we’re also able to, you know, in a macro level, see employee network amplification across certain platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. They’re able to provide us with some of those analytics for engagement. So at this point I take those multiple data points and sort of wrap them into an overall view of what the program’s accomplishing."

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @CreatingLiz and read the full article on the Link Humans blog.

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