Building Loyalty in the Workplace

 In Coaching, Culture, Leadership, Organizational Development

Building Loyalty in the Workplace

Effective brands, like those we are loyal to, have a strong identity we as consumers relate to. Take some of the most popular brands, Nike, Apple, Coach, Ford, Whole Foods, etc., that develop a strong mental, psychological connection with its consumers, leading to a loyal following. Similar ideas and approaches should be leveraged by organizations with their employees through the culture they develop and the leaders they select in order to foster loyalty.

Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace report shares that 51% of employees are searching for new jobs or watching for openings.  And with only one-third of employees engaged at work, only 20% say they are managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.  Clearly, organizations and their leaders are not providing compelling reasons to remain loyal.

We often see employees leave organizations for better pay, climates, and windowed offices without regard for the teams they walk away from. Likewise, we see organizations reorganize, change pay structure, and relocate with seemly no regard for the employees impacted. So as generations are entering and exiting the workforce, and regular job transitions are the reality, organizational cultures lacking employee loyalty are doomed. With too little loyalty, motivation plummets and cynicism lurks creating gulfs between employees and the organizations they serve. In a climate of backstabbing, second-guessing, and finger-pointing, relationships are contaminated and productivity destroyed.

What can a leader do to earn the loyalty or his or her team?

For a moment, let’s examine why we’re loyal in the first place. Generally, we’re loyal to companies for three main reasons:

  1. the relationships we have in the organization,
  2. the values we share in common with the organization, and
  3. the sense of fulfillment we derive from our role within the organization.

Each of these reasons provides motivation for us to commit ourselves to a job.

This is not new information, but it’s worth it to repeat, people don’t walk away from a job or organization, they walk away from a manager (and the culture they’ve created).

One of the Best Ways to Build Loyalty

One of the best ways to build loyalty is by making an effort to know people at a personal level. This might sound simple, but it can be challenging if first, you don’t understand who you are and your preferences.  Look for and find common interests and build bridges into their world. Understand what makes them tick. Reward their successes. Appreciate each person in a way that recognizes and validates his or her unique personality.  Don’t approach them the way you’d want to be approached, approach them the way they want to be approached keeping in mind their preferences.  (Edgar and Peter Schein reinforce this message in a recent guest post in our LinkedIn article)

People are drawn to the values espoused by an organization, and they will stick by their side because they share those values. It’s critical for an organization to be clear about its values from the hiring process onward. It’s not enough for an organization to profess its values; it must consistently walk in step with them. Organizations should allow their values to be scrutinized, and give employees permission to hold the organization and leadership accountable to them. Leaders must be able to explain any behavior which appears not to align with values, swiftly confront behavior that runs contradictory to values, and seeks forgiveness when the organization and its leaders fail to uphold values.

Like it or not, “What’s in it for me?” is the refrain at the forefront of the minds of those you lead. To win loyalty, cast a vision for the future so that each person sees how they will benefit by being part of the team, moving towards “What’s in it for us?”  Be intentional about uncovering each person’s strengths, and, as much as possible, position them where their job duties match their desires. Train, mentor, and stretch every person under your leadership.

People respond with loyalty to those who invest in them.

So, let me ask you:

How are you building loyalty?  What has your leader done to foster your loyalty to remain with the organization?  How are you investing in others?  Who has invested in you to secure your loyalty?

I welcome (and read) all comments, and would love to hear about your experience.  Please share below.

Also, if you’re a new leader, promoted to a role from an individual contributor role, we recommend you download our ebook here.

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