105SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,René Clayton René Clayton is an Innovation Strategist at PSCU, where she has more than 15 years of experience in technology and product development. She is passionate about identifying industry trends, conducting … Web: www.pscu.com Details Industries across the nation are beginning to recognize a growing need for a system whereby individuals within corporations can flourish through peer-to-peer information sharing and promotion. Career advocates is emerging in markets all over the world as a positive employee-growth tactic and development initiative. Mentorship programs within organizations have long been proven systems, but advocates in the workforce add an extra spark and create something more powerful and long lasting. While a mentor is trusted as a guide, an advocate beseeches on another’s behalf, promotes that person’s talents and encourages growth to best suit the individual’s abilities. Credit unions are inherently well-suited to such programs.The credit union industry was an early adopter in supporting an innovative approach that facilitates personal career development by empowering employees to encourage, support and assist their peers. Founded as cooperatives, credit unions practice what they preach through the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.” The values and culture of the industry are a solid source of differentiation and a competitive advantage.Providing a service-oriented and family-like atmosphere, the credit union industry has all the necessary building blocks to support a culture of workplace advocacy. But how do you move from a culture that is conducive to workplace advocacy to a workplace that puts it into practice? Here are three things to keep in mind when implementing a workplace advocacy program: An ideal advocate is someone who has tenure in the industry or organization and who is well-networked and well-informed of the goals and direction that the company strives to accomplish. These individuals seek out like-minded peers, help them network, introduce them to new opportunities and open dialogue with counterparts on their behalf. The personal investment an advocate makes in an employee can bring long-term positive effects to the company.According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, “[Advocates] provide advice, contacts, opportunities and the all-important recommendation that can catapult a career into high gear.” Relationships need to be cultivated in order for an advocate to want to put his or her efforts into an individual. Talents, strengths, and weaknesses must be understood for the goals of the peer to be met. By true self-assessment and the sharing of information with colleagues, an advocate/peer relationship may be born. Share what you know. Research has proven that many leaders do not participate in or even understand their critical role as advocates. However, the importance of acting as a career advocate or having advocates in the office should not be underestimated. Leaders may not know the strengths, talents and skills an employee in another area possesses, but sharing knowledge and ideas with one another helps coworkers, leaders and staff gain a deeper understanding of the talent surrounding them. Advocates provide visibility as well as career traction. How can a workplace advocacy program help your credit union? It helps guide people in the right direction. While advocacy goes hand in hand with workplace mentorship, it is different. The benefits of a proactive advocacy program can filter down throughout the entire organization. The person being advocated for is likely to gain opportunities for which they may have been overlooked, and the advocate gets a chance to assist leadership by elevating qualified employees. With a solid workplace advocacy system in place, gone are the days where talent goes unnoticed. Career advocates personally connect individuals with other people within their networks, providing new opportunities for career advancement and other leaders with top talent referrals. Valuable team members are given more opportunities, feel more empowered and can ultimately better navigate their personal career paths. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees with advocates are proven to be more satisfied with their rate of advancement when compared to their unsupported colleagues. In the end, an employee who is supported by an advocate is likely to be a loyal and dedicated team member for years to come.