When recording artists, actors, and celebrities scoop awards, they always take time to thank their fans, because fans are fundamentally the key to their icon’s success.
One stunning example of a fan base’s impact is Beatlemania: the screams of the Beatles’ hordes of supporters were so powerful in concerts, that the band made the decision to stop performing live in 1966 as their music was drowned out at every gig. Beatlemania epitomised the snowball effect of fandom–when groups of supporters attract more and more people to follow them.
On the other side of the coin, a more recent example of fan power was demonstrated by Liverpool football supporters at Anfield, when thousands of fans voted with their feet and walked out at the 77th minute of a match against Sunderland after a £77 match ticket (up from £59) and a £1,000 season ticket for next season were announced the week before. The result: a U-turn in the increase in ticket price.
The banners in Liverpool’s Kop read: “Supporters not customers.”
There are lessons here to be learned by employers. Your employees could form your biggest fan base, and they have the power to make or break your business. Your people are the ones who, if they are genuinely engaged in your mission and motivated to achieve great things in your company, will become living, breathing supporters of your organisation; offering world-class service to your customers out of passion–and converting your customers into fans as well.
But how to get to this position?
Employee engagement is a great start, but it’s not the final destination – it’s a means of getting there. We as leaders have the challenge and opportunity to tap into the power inside all of our people to ignite great work. This is the difference between employees just answering a phone call (because it’s their job) and wowing a client by the way they handled and resolved an issue.
The O.C. Tanner Institute wanted to understand what motivates employees to become fans in the workplace, contribute great work, and make a difference, so we asked the following question in a global survey: “What is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does (or could do) that would cause you to produce Great Work?” The single strongest factor to cause employees to do great work (three times more powerful than any other factor) is to recognise the great work of employees every day–cited by almost 40% of respondents.
Salary and bonuses can never give employees this sense of deeper meaning and purpose. If a leader within an organisation sincerely appreciates someone, it sends the message: “You do matter, you are important, and I value the great work you do.” People donate their talents and great work to many causes outside of work. If you ask them why, they never say “for the pay.” The answers will most often reflect that powerful human desire to make a difference, to feel valued, and to do something that transcends a paycheck.
A successful recognition strategy is based on so much more than moving up a “best companies to work for” ranking, or having increasing scores on an annual engagement survey. It’s about aligning employees with the values of your business, engaging them with your mission–and recognising them when they demonstrate the best facets of your culture to your clients and prospects.
This is the difference between a workforce and an internal fan base–and this is the lynchpin of world-class customer service, productivity, and growth.