03
Dec
12

Five critical elements to create employee loyalty

employee_loyalty

 

Every leader and company wants loyal employees. But what exactly is a loyal employee? The ultimate description is an employee who would, metaphorically speaking, “take a bullet for their leader.” Of course, I’m not necessarily talking about taking an actual gunshot – there are plenty of other ways employees sacrifice themselves for the leaders and companies they fiercely believe in.  These employees work insanely long hours; take on all of the “dirty” jobs that nobody else wants (not even the leader); clean up the messes that their leaders make; and fight alongside their leader in both the best and worst of times. Employees who work like this make great leaders appear even greater.

 

Loyal employees make you feel strong and confident.  They help you to push through the toughest situations toward that next level. You know that they have your back, and what’s more, you trust that they have your back. But when loyalty is compromised, deceit and distrust can take over. I’ve worked with many leaders who find it difficult to trust otherwise loyal employees because they have been burned so badly in the past.

 

Too often, leaders view employee loyalty as an expectation rather than an outcome. When viewed as an outcome, leaders shift their attention to the elements that ultimately lead to employee loyalty.

 

Here are the five critical elements that no-compromise leaders must focus on:

 

  1. It’s not the money: Chances are you’ve already blown through a fortune hiring high-priced talent or getting stuck in crazy-expensive pay arrangements with existing employees. When the key element to an employee relationship is centered on the money, the loyalty factor is compromised. There is a measurable difference in the performance and contribution of a loyal employee versus an employee who stays because of the money. The money quickly morphs into an entitlement as the buzz from the pay deal wears off. In such cases, “loyalty” goes to the highest bidder. Your best strategy may be to let the superstar drain your competition’s cash flow dry. True loyalty is an emotional bond that cannot be bought.
  2. Pride and ownership: Fiercely loyal employees and coaches have always surrounded me. “I love my job” is one statement that I am grateful to hear on a regular basis. I often write, “It’s always about the dream – the vision.” Employees don’t really work for you; they work to be part of your dream. You’re simply the visionary and their guide to achieve something extraordinary. There is an inherent sense of pride found in being a part of something extraordinary. It doesn’t matter if you make bagels, sell carpeting, manufacture surgical instruments, or cut hair; if you can’t articulate and inspire others with your dream, it’s hard to create pride in your work. Ownership in achieving the right outcome comes with pride. Together, they fill the emotional elements of loyalty.
  3. Respect and gratitude: The only time I have had issues with loyalty is when I’ve compromised as their leader (Hey, even the guy who wrote No-Compromise Leadership slips up every now and then). I took a call this week from a person seeking my counsel on a career change. This leader has been with the company for ten years.  He’s had enough of cleaning up the owner’s messes and taking blame for everything that goes wrong. Most importantly, he feels he is taken for granted and often the last to be acknowledged for a job well done – if acknowledged at all. Respect and gratitude balance out and polish those rough edges that exist in every employee/employer relationship. Respect and gratitude can move a mountain simply because they need to be felt and heard. In the absence of respect and gratitude, you get, “Why should I bother – what’s in it for me?”
  4. Company attitude: I prefer to use the term “attitude” instead of “culture.” Everyone talks about creating great cultures but falls short on defining what that great culture is all about. In contrast, you can walk into a company and feel its attitude. I once took a tour of Zappo’s corporate offices in Las Vegas – the company’s infamous “happiness” culture was everywhere. You could feel it in the environment, hear it in the employees’ voices, and see it on their faces. Happiness is Zappo’s company attitude. Now, what attitudes do you, your employees, and your customers feel when they walk into or interact with your company? The right company attitude has everything to do with employee loyalty. Work on it.
  5. Authenticity: In my no-compromise leadership presentations, I am always asked, “But what do you do when your leader is the one who’s compromising?” Leaders are notorious for having inflated egos, being masters of double standards, and casting blame in all directions except where it belongs. The phrase, “Employees quit leaders not companies,” speaks volumes on the importance of being an authentic leader. It means being dependable, trustworthy, and genuine. It means that employees can respectfully call you on your own nonsense and trust that you will listen and that they will be heard.

 

These five elements are massive topics that deserve attention and dialogue in your company beyond the casual reading of this MMWU. Consider having your employees score you and members of your leadership team on each of the five elements. Make it interesting by using a rubric scoring system of five, four, two, and one. A five is excellent. Four is above average. There is no three. Two is below average, and a one is poor. The scoring system eliminates the ever-popular “average.” You’re either above the line or below the line. No compromise.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.

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4 Responses to “Five critical elements to create employee loyalty”


  1. December 3, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Always great to read your posts, I can see a couple of areas where I would fall short, dependable, for me, too much on my plate, balancing behind the chair and managing the salon and spa. I recently went to an advanced color class that required 3 weekends in the course of a 7 week period, working behind the chair and attending the class, I fell short with the needs of my spa therapist and in return I lost her. Very sad, The other is just getting to work early, a good balance of my time.

    • December 3, 2012 at 8:49 am

      Hi Mary,
      As the owner, it’s easy to get too wrapped up in your own work and interests and forget that a leader’s job is to serve those they lead. Employees look for that kind of loyalty to them from their leader.

  2. 3 Raeleen
    December 3, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Love it! Thanks Neil!


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