As a business owner, it’s likely you have some understanding of the detrimental effects a lack of trust and loyalty can have on your culture, the success of your business and overall happiness. You also might have some insights into the tremendous benefits trusting and loyal team members bring to your business and customers.
Trust engenders loyalty in your team members: If you have my back, I’ll have yours. Any time 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 trust and could, in fact, prove impossible.
As the leader of your company, trust and loyalty begin with you. The wisest choice is to build a culture of trust and loyalty from the outset and continually work to strengthen it over time.
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.
When a team member is mistreated, their trust for and loyalty to that person and organization is compromised. Some examples of this include speaking in a derogatory or condescending manner or demeaning or humiliating a team member in front of others. Examples also include the failure to listen to team members, pay them what you agreed, appreciate quality work and recognize solid efforts. If these actions go on repeatedly, trust and loyalty will be destroyed all together.
Reflect on the 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 they represented.
Breaking your promises and lying to a team member is another way to damage 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 develop a mindset against you and your company.
Impeccability of your word — saying what you mean and meaning what you say — goes a long way in building trust and loyalty. Don’t lie to your team members. And when you make a promise, do everything in your power to keep it. If you can’t, make sure to let them know why so they’ll understand and see you did your best.
Taking advantage of and using your people for personal gain is yet another way to damage and even destroy the professional relationships you share. Repeatedly pressuring or demanding 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 will create mistrust and disloyalty. People don’t respond well to being used.
Conversely, when you treat people with dignity and respect — as human beings 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.
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 honest, supportive, fair and opportunity giving business owner, and team members will still take actions that damage or destroy your trust and loyalty in them. It’s a wise decision to let those team members go who don’t lend themselves to trust and loyalty. This is rarely the case, however, when you hire effectively and foster these things in them first.
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 in your team members.