Convert your employees into followers

All too often when you attract the best talent into your business, the work stops there. Much more needs to be done for employees to truly get on board with the company’s ethos, says Lyndsey Simpson

Convert your employees into followers

‘Follower’ is a term most of us are familiar with. It’s usually used in relation to social media and marketing campaigns and defined as someone who supports, admires or believes in a particular person, group or idea. So why do we not talk about our employees in the same context? Surely these are exactly the type of people we would want in our businesses, representing our brands.

We spend so long trying to recruit the very best people that as soon as they make the leap and commit to joining your business, the hard work and schmoozing you’ve done to get them on board all too often falls away. Without an engaged group of employees who have become followers, no business or product will ever fulfil the potential that it may have, regardless of how good you believe it to be.

So this month, I am looking at how you can go about converting your employees into followers and the steps that you can take to unleash their potential.


The first thing to do is to really understand what it means to be a follower and learn how you, as a business owner or leader, can create a movement of people following you. The best book to read in this regard is Tribes by Seth Godin. It encapsulates perfectly why some businesses and organisations are able to rise above their competition through the actions and shared mentality of the teams that drive them forward. Godin refers to groups of like-minded individuals as ‘tribes’, and argues that together these people can do amazing things, challenging the status quo and bettering what has gone before them when they come together. He writes: “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea.” His argument is that enthused and inspired employees will not only be happier in the workplace but also far more productive, something that everybody of course wants for their own businesses.

Be a leader

Without leaders there can be no followers. It is simply not reasonable to just expect your employees to feel exactly the same way as you do about your business without any attempt to educate and prove why they should become part of the tribe you are trying to create. For employees to become followers, they need an inspirational leader who can persuade them into a way of thinking that results in them feeling enthused by the opportunities in front of them. 

Perhaps most importantly, leaders need to be both visible and accessible to their teams, something which is often forgotten in the ever increasingly busy working day. Teams need to be inspired and are far more likely to reach their full potential when they feel their leader is somebody who they can believe in and who they feel represents them. Repeat, repeat and repeat your values; evangelise about why your business exists, what the big mission is and how you are changing the world one customer at a time and why they should be feeling proud of what they do. Day one nothing will happen. Then, slowly but surely, as you are constant and consistent in your internal communications, you will start to see changes. So much of this sort of messaging is often used externally to market a business but the importance of similar messages internally cannot be underestimated.  

Hand over ownership 

So up until now, all the messages have come from you: this is our mission, these are our values, this is why you should get behind it and feel proud. At the point that communications are clear and remembered, step away and hand over the actions to your people to bring them to life. For example, ask them how they demonstrate the company values and what things they or the company do that goes against them. Empower them to keep coming up with ‘proof points’ – examples of where they have got it right – set the right environment for them to share the ‘detractors’ – actions that don’t demonstrate the values – and get them to come up with a suitable solution so it doesn’t happen again.

Create momentum and excitement about people who are doing the right thing and bringing your mission to life. Share testimonials and client feedback with everyone. Get your team to train new joiners on why the company is making a difference and how they live the values every day. You will be surprised at just how quickly these actions start to snowball if you empower your people to bring your vision and values to life and support them when they do so. One day you then wake up and realise you have shifted your company culture and it’s no longer about a message from the top; it’s actions from the bottom that denote how and why things are done around here. 

Your employees are the face of your business and the point of contact for your customers. They represent the business and therefore effectively become the business itself. As a result, the importance of gaining the passion and belief of these individuals cannot be overstated. If you lead and show them the way, presenting them with a shiny vision of the future and a shared belief that what they are doing is for the greater good of all involved, then there is no reason why you can’t grow your own tribe and start calling your employees followers. 

Lyndsey Simpson
Lyndsey Simpson

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