If you’ve been in business 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 company, and overall happiness. You probably also realize the tremendous benefits trusting and loyal team members bring to your customers and operations.
Trust supports loyalty in team members. If you have my back, I’ll have yours. When trust between you and a team member is broken, any loyalty that existed is damaged. Once seriously damaged, it can be a lengthy process to rebuild trust. It might not be impossible.
When team members are mistreated, their trust in and loyalty to people and businesses are compromised. Some examples of this include not listening to team members, speaking in a derogatory or condescending manner, demeaning or humiliating team members in front of others, not paying them what you agreed or what they’re worth, failing to appreciate quality work, and not recognizing solid efforts. If these actions go on repeatedly, trust and loyalty will be destroyed and replaced with resentment.
Breaking your promises and lying to team members constitutes another way to damage loyalty. Lying doesn’t foster trust. It demonstrates you can’t be trusted. If you string people along and make promises you don’t intend to keep to get more out of them and then never deliver on your word, they’ll develop a mindset against you and your company.
Taking advantage of and using people for personal gain is yet another way to damage and even destroy professional relationships. 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 foster mistrust and disloyalty. People don’t respond well to being used.
Reflect on the times 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 people and companies.
When you treat people with dignity and respect — as human beings and not merely cogs in the wheels of your business — you nurture trust and loyalty. Just like you, your team members want to be treated fairly. 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 greater degrees. 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 what 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. Don’t lie. And 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, too. This demonstrates you believe in them, recognize and appreciate their time and effort and, perhaps most important, confirms you care.
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 when you hire effectively and foster these things in them first. But it’s wise to let those team members go who don’t lend themselves to trust and loyalty.
As the leader of your business, trust and loyalty begin with you. When your leadership fosters trust and loyalty in your people, your top performers will return the favor — usually to an even greater degree. This in turn creates better customer service, satisfaction, and loyalty.