5 Simple but Effective Ways to Advocate for Your Team
by Josh Breland
Read in 3 minutes
Employee advocacy is about genuinely caring for your people. Great leaders not only deeply care for their people, their people know deeply that their leader cares for them. By communicating, praising, stretching, and creating safety, your team will be encouraged and cared for by your advocacy.
Tell them you are their advocate
Great leaders don’t make others assume reality, they create and communicate reality. No one will advocate for your people like you will and your team needs to know that. Simply telling your team in 1:1’s or team meetings that you are their advocate is an effective first step in advocating for your people. Also, merely saying it once will not do. Creating a team culture of advocacy will take frequent clear communication that, as their leader, you have their back.
Give public praise in front of senior leaders
The opportunity to publicly praise your people in front of senior leaders may not be often, but it is a powerful way to advocate for your people. Deep down, everyone wants to do a good job and be recognized for their hard work. When you publicly praise your people in front of senior leaders, they see that you are on record affirming them and their work. Great leaders love to share their influence to empower and help others. Giving public praise in front of senior leaders is a great way to advocate for your people.
Give private praise to others in organization
We’ve all been in meetings or hallway conversations where a team’s project efforts are brought up. As leaders, it is all too easy to say thanks and move the conversation along. One simple way to advocate for your people in those situations is to lean in and specifically mention the individual efforts of each team member. Share with others in your organization the sacrifice, focus, diligence, or creativity of your people. No one is more knowledgeable of your team’s efforts than the team leader. Advocate for your team by giving private praise to others.
Recommend them for stretch assignments
One of the best ways to grow professionally is stretch assignments. Stretch assignments, or stretch projects, is work that is outside the comfort or competence zone of a team member. A simple way to advocate for your people is by assigning stretch work. This communicates that you have their back in professional development and that you trust them. Employee advocacy builds trust and assigning stretch projects is a great way to build trust with your people.
Fight for psychological safety in meetings
Do your people feel safe in your presence? Do they feel safe in team meetings? An effective way to advocate for your people is to fight for psychological safety in meetings.
A few tactics: communicate the meeting is a safe environment to speak freely, gently point out possible offense, affirm points of view that may not be fairly considered, thank team members for their honesty and candor. By using these simple tactics, team members will know they are safe in meetings, and that you care for them.
Everyone wants, and needs, an advocate as their boss. Be the advocate your people need. Advocacy is not always easy, but it can be simple. Your people deserve it.
Joshua Breland leads a communications team in Indianapolis and has learned diverse leadership lessons as a combat arms soldier, entrepreneur, and dad to three girls.
Podcast coming soon.