Internal Brand Ambassadors

Recently, Chuck Hollis wrote about discovering an army of EMC ambassadors on Twitter, and I shared a comment with him about how I really enjoyed the organic growth of passionate people into a new realm.  If you read Chuck’s blog at all you’re aware of EMC’s methodology for encouraging social media use among its employees and the importance of our internal community site in that process.  As I was reading some posts on EMC|ONE this morning I realized that while we spend a lot of time talking about how we’re all ambassadors for our brand to the Internet at large, we really haven’t talked about how we’re all internal ambassadors of our employment brand (our culture) to the rest of our employees.

I’ll give two fictional examples, based on several real incidents but modified to protect the guilty (or innocent!).

  1. A group opened up a subcommunity on the site, and one user consistently responded to requests from users for help with “That information is in our FAQ,” and included a link to the FAQ, without ever answering the request.
  2. An employee complained about a specific corporate policy and received an informal response from a VP who said, “I have always treated that policy as just a guideline, and I think you should too.”

What’s important to note is that in both cases, the user was trying to be helpful, and represented his or her group to the rest of EMC as best he or she knew how, with no formal training or actual authority.  Dive in, make a splash, watch the ripple effects.  Those examples are now part of our shared culture, and someone else looking at them months later sees just snapshots of interactions — and now makes very specific conclusions about the individuals and groups involved.

I could list dozens of specific examples, but to do so I’d be calling out my fellow employees (in both good and bad ways).  But the end result is that when our employees think about our corporation as a whole, they are basing their impression at least partially (and maybe largely) on the actions of a handful of unofficial internal ambassadors.

How does the corporation recognize and then leverage that, to improve communication, to improve morale, to improve working conditions?  What have you encountered at your workplace?