As the leader of your company, team member trust and loyalty begin with you.
If you’ve owned a business for any length of time, 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 operation and overall happiness. You might also possess some insight into the tremendous benefits trusting and loyal team members bring to your business and customers.
Trust supports loyalty in 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 loyalty. It might be impossible.
When team members are mistreated, their trust for and loyalty to the owner and organization are 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 and failing to appreciate quality work or a solid effort. If these actions go on repeatedly, trust and loyalty will be destroyed.
Taking advantage of and using people for personal gain constitutes another way to damage and even destroy the professional relationships you share. Repeatedly pressuring or demanding a team member to 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 typically respond well to being used.
Breaking your promises and lying to a team member also undermines 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, you create a mindset against you and your company.
Reflect on times when you’ve been mistreated and how you felt, how they damaged the trust and loyalty you once had and how they altered your perspective of that person and company they represented.
When you treat people with dignity and respect — as human beings and not merely cogs in the gears of your business — you nurture trust and loyalty. Just like you, team members want to be treated fairly. And when they are, in most cases they’ll return the favor.
As you value your team members, they will value you and your business to a greater degree. Most people who go to a safe and supportive 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.
Providing your 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 important, confirms you care.
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 them know why so they’ll understand and see you did your best.
Trust and loyalty are 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, however, when you hire effectively and foster these things in them first. It’s wise to let those team members go who don’t lend themselves to trust and loyalty.
When your leadership fosters trust and loyalty in your people, your top talent will return the favor to you, usually to an even greater degree. There are tremendous benefits to you and your customers when you build a culture of trust and loyalty with your team members.