In this climate of economic upheaval, companies are making changes and cutting costs wherever they can. Extra expenditures have been snipped from the budget and open positions are not being filled. Many companies are scaling back their holiday gatherings, or canceling them altogether.
If you work at a company that’s making these changes right now, no one could blame you for feeling a bit uneasy. After all, no one’s job is a certainty and none of us are employed for life.
If your area of influence stretches about as far as your desk, you may be thinking that the things you do have little to no impact on the day-to-day operations of the company.
You’d be wrong.
Some of the best representatives of any company is its employees. You’re the eyes and ears of the company on the street and in the field. If you work for a large company, you can play an important role by giving a corporate giant a very real human face.
You can pick the term – cheerleader, representative, evangelist – but it’s all the same idea: Grow the interest in your company and what you do, and that interest might potentially turn into commerce. The more money your company makes, the more likely they are to keep you and your team on the payroll.
A few years ago, I worked for a bank that employed around 20,000 workers. The company wasn’t in dire straits, but its growth had been disappointing the stockholders for a few years. The company suffered from typical bureaucracy – with sales departments and service teams disconnected from each other.
The president unveiled a program where every employee in the company (not just the sales force) had a chance to earn incentives just by referring a new customer. These sorts of incentives are customary to a sales team, but the leadership recognized that they had an untapped resource in their own employees – all of them.
Once the program was launched, most of those 20,000 employees (including me) participated. We talked to people we knew. People who may have been too busy to stop by a branch, or too intimidated to ask questions of a stranger, talked to people like us that they knew.
Since it wasn’t a “hard sell” situation, people felt more relaxed talking to folks they knew. They were able to have more confidence in the answers they were getting.
What happened? The employees who participated drove a lot of new, viable business to the bank. The company (and its stock) experienced several years of growth. It also made changes to its portfolio of assets, and focused on growing its customer base. And in doing so, it departed a potentially risky line of business – mortgages, the same business that has wreaked so much havoc this year.
What can you do?
Make sure your friends, family and neighbors have a good idea about what you do. You don’t need to “sell” to them, but they may remember you and your company when it comes time to use that service.
If people have questions about your company, try to answer them and engage them in a conversation about what you do. (Obviously, you don’t want to share any proprietary information.) If someone has negative feedback, make note of it and pass it on via the appropriate channels.
And while you’re surfing the Internet, pay attention to what’s being said about your company. Keep an eye on industry Web sites and message boards, and be aware of what’s happening. The more aware you are, the more adaptable you’ll be in any situation.