I have worked for people and promoted products I felt very connected to. I'm loyal to these people and their brands.
But once upon a time, I had the misfortune of working for a company that saw nearly 100% turnover among employees that were not me and my desk partner, who managed to tough it out for awhile. Even though we hung in there, we didn't feel any loyalty to the company at all, and were in fact always in the process of looking for another opportunity.
The lack of loyalty some of the others felt actually led to leaked company secrets, resulting in an expensive lawsuit that was probably the beginning of the end for this company. (And end it did.)
But why did it have to happen that way?
Everything I learned about building loyalty among your team I was taught by observing everything this company did wrong.
During my time in that job, we never knew what was going on. We were promised accounts that never materialized. My manager even went so far as to try to pit my co-worker and I against each other by insinuating that only one of us would get to travel to an especially exotic location to conduct a training, but my co-worker and I both suspected that account would never come to be. And it didn't.
Feeling out of the loop is not a fun place for an employee to be. No, maybe your team members don't need to be privy to everything, but the constant sensation that the management was hiding things from us kept us looking elsewhere for other opportunities and conserving our greatest ideas, just in case we were dumped with short notice.
We submitted our finished work to great praise, but changes were made by the time the product made it to the client. We never knew if our work was all that great, after all, and worse, we didn't know how to make it better.
Trust your own judgment: why did you hire the person if you don't think he can do the job? Get out of the way and let him do what you're paying him to do. If you notice sub-par work coming in, that's when you can talk to him and offer constructive criticism, giving him a chance to improve before you find someone who is a better fit for your team.
We talked to angry clients because the bosses didn't want to. Yet, we weren't given the tools with which to appease the anger. I once offered to ship a replacement part for free and I got a frighteningly stern, "Always check with me before you do something like that" from my boss.
It should go without saying: don't dump your mistakes on your employees. It will build resentment and frustration.
We got a very official-looking employee handbook when we started that clearly stated which holidays we would have off. The week before Independence Day, the CEO announced that because the sales team hadn't met their goals, we would all be working on July 4, even though that holiday was on our days-off list.
If you say you'll do something, do it. Sometimes extreme circumstances require a change in plans, but approach that change with a positive attitude, a thorough explanation, options, and fair compensation when appropriate.
Treat Everyone Fairly
I had a terrible commute, so I started coming in at 7:00am and leaving at 4:00pm. It worked out great. But I wasn't the only one with the long commute, and when others in the office asked to do the same thing, they were denied. I kept doing it and was never asked to change. Worked out great for me in that area, but not so much for anyone else.
We had clients all over the country, many of whom worked off hours, so getting in an hour early actually helps some of them. Really, there was no reason we all couldn't have been coming in an hour early if we wanted. But they didn't want that for whatever reason, and therefore, I shouldn't have been allowed it either.
Sometimes certain people in your organization might make more money or get an opportunity that someone else didn't, and that's bound to happen. But arbitrary favoritism shouldn't.
How you inspire loyalty among your employees and customers?