In this post, we look at the different benefits of encouraging employee evangelism across your team and company.
There’s no denying that the current climate within the tech industry is in flux. We’ve all seen the rise in redundancies, with companies tightening their budgets, down-sizing their teams and re-examining their priorities. Employee evangelism is one of those areas that I think has been left on the wayside. Doing more with less though, doesn’t mean that certain things shouldn’t be done at all. Rather it’s about being smarter with what we’re able to do with the time, people and resources that we have. And now is exactly the time to focus on employee evangelism.
Before explaining why, let’s define what we mean with employee evangelism. It’s where a company’s employees become evangelists for their company, their team and their work, sharing what they know with the community. Employee evangelism is all about raising awareness about the team – and comes from the team directly.
This can be done through many different ways: think of things like writing blog posts, speaking at conferences, holding workshops, attending hackathons, hosting meet-ups in your office, volunteering at boot camps or sponsoring events. There are different approaches, but it’s all about building that awareness about the team.
When employee evangelism is fully embraced, there are multiple benefits to the team and company. Here are the main reasons to focus on employee evangelism:
Build your team’s external reputation
Employee evangelism helps showcase what you do as a team, which will build up the team’s external reputation and make it easier to hire and attract great people. Sharing with the community what you do, will help people gain insight into how the team works, what challenges they’re facing and how they’re approaching problems. It allows people to understand what the company’s mission and values are, as well as helping them get to know the people working at the company. This all helps build the reputation that your team is an interesting and great place to work at, and gives a human face to your company.
While it’s currently a company-led hiring market, that is going to shift again at some point to be candidate driven. Encouraging more employee evangelism now is an opportunity to set your team apart, and take the time to build up the team’s reputation and skills. Once the climate shifts back to a candidate market, your team will be in a better position to hire and attract great people, and ideally be top on people’s lists of companies they want to work at.
Build community within your company
Encouraging more employee evangelism not only allows your team to share what they know with the community, it also allows people to share what they do internally across the company. It gets people to see how other teams work, how they can learn from each others’ experiences and teach each other new skills. Especially when you have internal initiatives and processes to help develop evangelism skills (like internal learning hours, speaker coaching or dedicated slack channels), it helps build community within your company and encourages more collaboration, feedback and discussion.
Currently with an all time high of remote employees, it’s important to encourage those relationships across the company. Remote workers need to feel connected to others in their teams. Getting insight into how other teams work, encouraging teams to learn from each other and having regular opportunities to share experiences, will help build community and relationships across the company.
Improve communication skills across the team
Helping your employees get better at evangelism, means helping them become better communicators. Whether it’s through speaking, writing or facilitating, those are all skills that are needed on a day-to-day basis. Think of things like pull requests, slack messages, feedback, sprint reviews - these are all forms of communication that with more practice can be improved. Development doesn’t happen in a silo, and good communication allows for ideas to get across easier. It makes people clearer, allowing them to vocalise their ideas and solutions more coherently to others.
Increase retention & happiness within your engineering team
Building evangelism skills across the team, shows that you’re willing to invest in your people and their progression. Different people will have different reasons for wanting to get better at these skills. Some will want to do it to become better communicators like mentioned above, while others will want to do it to build their own personal brand and reputation within the community. Regardless of the motivation, helping people build these skills shows that the team cares about people’s development, and will help retain people.
With everything that is happening in the news with the world right now, morale within the team is sure to be affected. Don’t underestimate the number of people who are sticking around at present because it’s easier, but who are ready to leave once the industry has settled. Now is the time to build structures to help support, motivate and keep those folks happy, and encouraging people to focus on their own growth and development is a key part in this.
Employee evangelism is about raising awareness about your team and company, and establishing a reputation that your team is a great place to work. It’s about doing outreach to all the potential employees outside the company, with the aim to make it easier to hire, but with internal benefits of improving community, communication skills and retention within the company.
However, this does take time to build up - you can’t create a reputation overnight. You need to have the right internal initiatives, processes and structures in place to encourage employee evangelism, build the skills needed for it and start sharing what you know within the community. This doesn’t necessarily mean introducing drastically new and different things – you can start with grassroots evangelism and outreach approaches, with the goal to build it up over time.
So how do you build a culture of employee evangelism within your team? I’ll be sharing ideas and approaches over the next few weeks, so subscribe below to get updates about future posts.
Want to learn more about encouraging employee evangelism in your team? Get in touch with me to discuss your team and company.