Loyalty in business
What modern day businesses have forgotten is that loyalty works both ways. Something we have lost in todays business world is loyalty. There used to be a time someone was hired and stayed until retirement. While both employee and employer maintained a loyalty to each other. Now if someone is in the same place of employment for 5 years, that’s seen as a long time.
Many coaches we see are people that have had successful businesses. They look back and see how they did and share what they learned, using that to guide others to success in their businesses. Here is what I bring. I come from the bottom, at the worker level and I know why your employees do what they do and what they want to see in their management teams. Not just to complain, but so they can feel heard and that their thoughts matter. One of the biggest issues with the people on the ground is they feel no one wants to hear their opinions. Even more so they feel that if they give their opinion, they will be punished for it if it isn’t a positive one. So whats happened here to get this level of distrust in the work force? When the focus has been lost by management. What I mean by that is they begin focusing on the bottom dollar, how to save it, how to grow it and how to use it to make sure the business is growing. Don’t get me wrong you cant ignore those things. My question is, who is the one that’s the face of your business? Who is setting the mood and personality of your business? That would be your on the ground employees. They are the face of your business, I don’t care what industry or type of business it is. Your employees are the cog on the gear that makes it run. If they are not happy and loyal to what you do and why your doing it, they will not represent you the way you would want. It will become just a job they go to everyday with no real life it in.
So what does it take to have a loyal employee base? Trust. Hands down trust is the one thing they have to feel before you can take any other steps forward. Look at some of the biggest most successful businesses. Google, Apple, Microsoft to name a few. What makes them be consistently listed as the most desired places to work. At one time I remember reading an article that said for one opening at Google there were 10’s of thousands of applicants all dreaming of working there. Why would that be?
Go look at a list of benefits that Google employees get. Here is an article from Forbes that its pretty interesting. Google article
You will see a trend of making employees feel needed and important and that administration really cares about them. They want the best people working for them and they compensate them accordingly. I know most businesses are not capable of this level of care but what can you do?
You build trust in your employees by being willing to sacrifice yourself for the betterment of them. When they see your willing to give up something so they gain something or save them from something, you immediately begin to build loyalty. Too many company’s today look to make cuts in staff as a first resort to cut costs. On paper that may seem ok but it will have a devastating effect on your staff, not only in moral but in loyalty and trust. I watch a video with Simon Sinek about a company with a few hundred employees that hit on hard times. The first suggesting was a lay off to cut costs. The owner wouldn’t have it. They found a different alternative. They instated a mandatory 1 week day off with out pay but you had a year to pick your days and it was to begin with all of the upper end management. What ended up happening was the people that had the extra time and money to take more days off without pay took other peoples time so they wouldn’t have to lose their pay for that week. It caused a kindness to spread from those that had extra to give to those that didn’t. It lifted spirits and trust in the leadership and it grew by leaps and bounds. After the year was up they were out of the hard time and got back to normal with no lay offs and a huge benefit to the company as a whole. This is the attitude we need back in business these days.
Too many look to the successful business man to get things figured out and I think they can to a point but if you want to know whats going on in your business get on the ground and talk to the people that are meeting your customer. If you keep a large part of your focus on meeting the needs of your employees so you keep them happy, motivated and they understand you really care about them, then you have an opportunity to grow your business in a very positive way.
The end user of your product or service will look at the on the ground employee as your representative in your business. He is the eyes ears and face of you. Treat them like trash and you will have a hard time keeping good people and have large turn over rates. If your kind and reasonable and work to build honest trust in them they will work harder and more willing then you would believe.
I know most places can’t offer what Google does to their employees and I’m not suggesting you go broke giving everything to them. It’s a balance and a long term vision for growth. Not the short term fix to grab a buck at the sacrifice of the betterment of your business and detriment to your employees.
Your business is the people you have hired to work for you and that’s a fact. You work hard to build trust and belief in the Why behind your business and if its something they can believe and get on board with. Then take the effort to honestly support them in as many ways as possible. Never forget what it was like to be on the ground. Stay humble and be looking for ways you can connect with your people in ways they need, not just ways that the next best business model is telling you. Trust me they can see through fake effort faster than you would ever know.
Doubt me? Why are shows like “Undercover Boss” so popular? The leader gets on the ground. They get on their level to understand what they go through every day and the struggles they may face that management may not have heard about. One of the business worlds largest and mostly ignored sources of information is their own employees but there has to be trust or they will never talk honestly to you. You will have a large group of people sitting silent in a meeting room all afraid to speak the truth. No leader wants that. You want the truth from your employees? You better be ready to do what it takes to earn their trust. It starts with leadership and a single step.