Today I want to talk about Employee Resource Groups as a great way to grow at work.
First, let’s start by defining what an Employee Resource Group is. In many companies there are groups of folks who share something in common that gather to support each other, put on events and things of that nature. They have some kind of affinity that may be based on race, culture, gender, sex or some other shared experience. Some of the common ones are an African-American group, Hispanic group, Indian group, Gay / Lesbian / Transgender group and Military veterans group.
In many cases these groups are sanctioned and funded by their company. They usually have an executive who serves as a “sponsor,” and helps them to work through any roadblocks in getting things done. To help with organising, they may implement software such as a sharepoint calendar to keep everything in line and updated as they go.
In many cases they are known for the events they put on in celebration / education of something related to their group (For example: Black History month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Woman’s History Month, Veteran’s day, etc.).
The celebrations are great but the biggest opportunity I see is to really be of service to the members of that group. I have been part of an ERG for almost 10 years. And now that you have a clear idea regarding the employee resource group definition, here are my thoughts on how to take it a level up.
6 Ways to take Employee Resource Groups Up a Notch
- Really get to know the members of the group by having mixers and asking personal and work related questions. What do they do when they are not at work? What are they aspiring to do at work? What are the biggest challenges.
- Leverage a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool to keep track and revisit the information you learn about your group members. You can use something like Contactually to keep track of the information.
- Create Mastermind Groups: Depending on the size of your Employee Resource group I would suggest creating small mastermind groups that can check-in with each other on a weekly basis to see what they are working on, how they are progressing and where there may be help needed. You can let folks organically create these groups, you can put people together or you can do a combination of the two that involves creating the framework for the mastermind groups. For example you may have it set up where there is 1 senior person in each mastermind group.
- Professional Development: Make professional development a regular part of what your Employee Resource Group provides. Taking professional development training courses can be a great thing for improving employees and, thus, the business as a whole. Start by surveying your group members to find out some of their biggest challenges at work and what skills they would like to learn next. Experts at Acuity Training are one of the best training providers in the UK who can contribute to the group’s professional development. Furthermore, you can have one person who is in charge of professional development and if you meet on a monthly basis, have them bring in a breakdown of a book (the app Blinkist can help) the group should read (in fact you should start a book club;ask me how and I’ll tell you an easy way to do so). They can curate information using a tool like Flipboard or my personal favorite, Pulse.me to make it easy to find information that may be of interest to the group. If you are really ready to go digital you can also share articles that may be of interest on a regular basis. I suggest using something like Meddle.it to share your collective thoughts on the article.
- Really help them develop professionally: by tying the projects and assignments that the group works on to business objectives in a very visible way. Some group members may say, “that’s not what an employee resource group is about,” but remind them, when it comes to review time and they can point to something that actually helped to move the company forward, it’s definitely what the Employee Resource Group is About.
- Build an Online Community: I like the idea of having an online space (intranet or forum) where the Employee Resource Group can stay connected outside of meetings. You want to change the mindset from, this is something I’m a part of during the meetings to, this is something that is important and even vital to my success as an employee.
Remember, You don’t Have to leave your job to leave a mark. This is Mike Ambassador Bruny for Brand Inside a Brand.
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