The Power of Employee Influencers

Aug 13, 2019

Employee Influencers

The term influencer is most commonly associated with social media. It refers to an individual who has the power to affect purchasing decisions based on their connection with a particular audience. Typically this relationship is solely digital and largely due to popularity – like a celebrity, a blogger, or a reviewer. Influencers are becoming a large part of brand marketing because of their ability to sway the buying decisions of their followers. The same concept can apply with your team at the office.   

What is an office influencer?

There are two kinds of office influencers. A negative influencer is someone who is influencing the team with inaccurate information and goes against the company mission. These types of influencers are typically responsible for the rumor mill. The second type of influencer – and the one you want to have in your office – is a positive influencer. Positive office influencers are individuals who have built up trust and respect over their tenure with the company. Employees naturally seek these influencers out for advice and reliable information about what’s going on in the company. This is not an official position, nor should it be. In order to be effective, this relationship needs to develop naturally. The key to having an effective influencer is trust. Both the leadership team and their peers need to have trust in this individual.

Points to Remember

  • Let the influencer self-identify. It’s important to let this type of connection build naturally by observing interaction of the whole team. Influencers will self-identify over time.
  • Their influence is informal. A formal influencer is typically someone on the leadership team with official authority over their employees. While these individuals still have influence, sometimes informal influencers are more effective due to the relationships they have built with their peers. There is more trust and common interest since neither has a management agenda.
  • Keep them in the know for best results. A major benefit of having influencers on your team is they can easily squash the rumor mill and clear up misinformation.


  • Support Culture Changes and Company Initiatives
  • Communication Liaison Between Leadership and The Team
  • Eliminate the Rumor Mill

How do you create positive influencers?

While it’s important to let influencers self-identify intuitively, there are things you can do as a leadership team to create an environment where they can emerge. The number one thing your culture must have to create influencers is trust. Without it, the relationship will not be authentic, resulting in a very short shelf life. The second key factor in creating influencers is time. It takes time to build trust. For the relationship to be effective, employees must feel that the influencer is someone they can trust and is not seen as a “spy” for management.

Ways to Create an Environment of Trust for Influencers to Emerge

  • One-on-ones with Direct Reports: Having monthly conversations with each member of your team will create trust over time. These conversations should also serve as a time for that person to bring up any concerns or feedback.
  • Communication Training and Development: Providing your team with development opportunities around communication will give them the tools needed to build trust.
  • Celebrate Victories: Reinforcing success the team has achieved, both big and small, will show your team that you appreciate them. Feeling appreciated and like their talents are being put to good use will help foster trust.

Look for EQ Competencies of Influencers When Hiring

No two influencers will be alike, but there are a few competencies that they all share. These are good competencies to keep in mind when building a team.

  • Intuition and Empathy: Able to build relationships with others and connect at a personal level.
  • Self-Awareness: Aware of how words, body language, and actions influence others and the world around them.
  • Self-Expectations: Someone who has a consistent work ethic and sense of accountability. They take pride in fulfilling their personal commitments.

Having influencers on your team can be very beneficial and has the potential to help you get buy-in at the employee level on new ideas and initiatives. It can also help you gather authentic feedback from your team that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. Remember to foster an environment of trust and create a culture that helps your employees build relationships.

ZERORISK HR is a leader in pre-employment assessment and team development. We offer a half-day workshop, The Emotional Intelligence of High Performing Teams. This workshop is designed for a team or department within your organization and focuses on how to create trust among teams and build communication. Each participant will be provided with their own personal customized emotional intelligence summary report, a summary of core motivations for themselves, their peers, and the team as a whole, an overview of the best practices of high performing teams, a personalized high performing team success/goals document, and tips on effective communication and building trust. The team leader will also be provided with an emotional intelligence report on each of their direct reports' motivators and how they relate to the leader, plus a 1-hour coaching session. Contact us today to learn more.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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