Developing a positive culture and inspiring loyalty requires a delicate and sometimes complicated balance between intentional interventions and behavioral modifications. In a day and time when the word loyalty has somewhat lost its meaning, maintaining a high retention rate and creating a positive work environment is critical and complicated.
Creation of a positive working culture, and the ever-elusive loyalty, requires leaders that are sincere, heartfelt and real. The best leaders are able to effectively communicate across the generational spectrum and inspire loyalty through their approachability, their communication style and their interaction at a guttural level.
The days of simply bringing in donuts once a month to foster and maintain an attractive work culture are long gone. Employees have higher expectations of their leaders, rightly so, in a landscape filled with alternative occupational options. Creation of a compelling family environment, with the right level of promise of career advancement, recognition, stability, growth and development is critical.
How do we do this?
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. There is no single action or training program you can take and then step away. These traits, while innate in some people, can take work to uncover and, in some, may never emerge. However, that doesn’t mean the effort is not without its rewards. Your organizational culture and loyalty of employees are like a garden in many ways — it requires your constant, consistent and ongoing attention and dedication to grow, evolve, produce fruits and be sustainable. Take your eye off the goal for a week or month and your crops will wither and retract.
The advice I provide to anyone wishing to create, foster and grow a culture that inspires loyalty is to do so through intentional, purposeful acts. Just as we schedule meetings, client visits, and 1x1s, schedule time to attend to your organizational garden. Acknowledgment, remembrance, recognition, building up — big words that take very little time and reap great rewards. Reaching out on a human level, remembering and acknowledging service dates, anniversary dates, a great sales closure or finalization of a project — these things matter. They matter more than we realize — to all employees. From early career to mid-career and late career, no one is immune from needing recognition and praise for a job well done. Taking time, rather MAKING time, for these interactions is pivotal in establishing a working environment where employees feel valued, impactful, necessary and loyal to the vision and brand.
There are five steps that will set you out on the road to success. While these may seem easy and simple, consistency is key – doing it once a week or a month will not cut it. Making this a part of your DNA and who you are as a person in the work environment consistently will result in team members that are loyal and a far more positive and welcoming work culture:
- Make eye contact as much as possible — with everyone
- Say "thank you," verbally and in writing, for specific things
- Remember personal things shared with you and refer back to them
- Be present in conversations — listen far more than you talk
- Follow-through and follow-up — be reliable
Connect with people on a real level, treat everyone with respect and you will in turn gain their respect. This takes no money and no complicated reward programs — only your purposeful and consistent time.