Does Your Business Culture Build Trust and Loyalty? - Business Times Column #133
Trust supports loyalty in your team members: If you have my back, I’ll have yours. Anytime trust between you and a team member is broken, any loyalty that existed is damaged to some degree. Once seriously damaged, it can be a lengthy process to rebuild loyalty. It might be impossible.
If you’ve been a business owner for any length of time, you likely understand the detrimental effects a lack of trust and loyalty can have on your culture, the success of your business and overall happiness. You might also possess some insight into the tremendous benefits trusting and loyal team members bring to your business and customers.
As the leader of your company, team member trust and loyalty begins with you. The wisest choice is to build trust and loyalty from the outset and continually work to strengthen them over time.
When a team member is mistreated, their trust for and loyalty to that person and organization is compromised. Some examples of this include not listening to team members, speaking in a derogatory or condescending manner, demeaning or humiliating a team member in front of others, not paying them what you agreed, failing to appreciate quality work or recognizing solid efforts. If these actions go on repeatedly, trust and loyalty will be destroyed.
Reflect on times when you’ve been mistreated and remember how you felt, how it damaged the trust and loyalty you once had and how it altered your perspective of that person and the company he or she represented.
Taking advantage of and using your people for personal gain is another way to damage and even destroy professional relationships. Repeatedly pressuring or demanding that a team member put in more and more time, perform additional tasks and go above and beyond without meaningful recognition, verbal appreciation or even financial rewards fosters mistrust and disloyalty. People don’t typically respond well to being used.
Breaking your promises and lying to a team member is yet another way to negatively affect their loyalty. Obviously, lying to someone doesn’t foster trust. In fact, doing so demonstrates you can’t be trusted. If you string someone along and make promises you don’t intend to keep to get more out of them and never deliver on your word, they’ll create a mindset against you and your company. Conversely, when you treat people with dignity and respect — as humans and not merely cogs in the wheel of your business — trust and loyalty is nurtured. Just like you, your team members want to be treated fairly. When they are, in most cases they’ll return the favor.
When you value your team members, they’ll value you and your business to a greater degree. Most people who go to a safe and supported work environment are appreciative. They want to be there, give more of themselves and work to preserve that which they enjoy. Creating a friendly and supportive work environment strengthens trust and loyalty.
Impeccability of your word — saying what you mean and meaning what you say — goes a long way in building trust and loyalty. The wisest choice here is to not lie to your team members. When you make a promise, do everything in your power to keep it. If you can’t, make sure to let team members know why so they’ll understand and see you did your best.
Providing team members with opportunities to learn new skills, take on more important tasks and advance within your business instills trust and loyalty. This demonstrates you believe in them, recognize and appreciate their time and effort and, perhaps most importantly, confirms to them you care.
Trust and loyalty is a two-way street. Sometimes you can be the most integrity based, supportive, fair and opportunity giving business owner, and team members will still take actions that damage or destroy your trust and loyalty in them. This is rarely the case when you hire effectively and foster these things in team members first. But it’s a wise decision to let those team members go who don’t lend themselves to trust and loyalty.
When your leadership comes from a place that fosters trust and loyalty in your people, your top talent will return the favor to you, usually to an even greater degree. The bottom line: There’s a great benefit to you and your customers when you build trust and loyalty with your team members.