Assuming you treat them right -- and I'm going to assume readers of this blog do -- the people who work for you are among your most effective influencers ambassadors. Leveraging their good will is an important tool for sustaining or growing your organization. Their advocacy bolsters your organizational reputation and scaffolds recruitment of new talent and acquisition of new customers. Engaging team members thoughtfully – and voluntarily – often boosts morale and retention. Why? There’s lots of research out there that employees who feel their work and engagement is important to the organization’s mission and success are more likely to stick around.
I’m not sure it’s a trend, but we’re getting more training queries from leaders who want to help their team members develop a personalized narrative about the organization, a campaign or issue. That’s great to see. There’s an interest in advocacy and messaging workshops to teach skills that everyone’s communication -- internally and externally -- and reap benefits beyond the immediate need.
One of those inquiries was from a local human services organization that's endeavoring to support employees in explaining and contextualizing the group’s workin their own words. We all know that persuasion is more effective when it's authentic and personalized rather than a stock set of verbatim talking points trundled out by every team member.
Our first workshop focused on persuasive and opinion writing – what I generally call advocacy writing. Back in my classroom teaching days, we'd call this a genre study. We broke down the traits of effective advocacy writing based on our own research and the work of others. We talked about each person's concerns and frustrations about writing and developed strategies for easing them. We ended the session with an introduction to a pre-writing strategy that empowered everyone to sketch out their thoughts and get feedback. Check it out here.
In between our sessions, attendees will draft their talking points or statements (we want them to develop tools that work for them – not follow some prescribed program). At our next gathering, they’ll share their work, revise it and practice using it. To make sure things stay construction, we go back to the share language of quality (those traits I mentioned in session 1) and go over tips for getting and giving constructive and actionable feedback. By the end of the session, each staffer walks away with the language they need to advocate for the group and its cause – in their own words.
If this sounds like something your organization would benefit from, drop me a line!