If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you likely understand how lack of trust and loyalty hurts your culture, business success, and overall happiness. You probably also recognize the tremendous benefits trusting and loyal team members bring to your customers and business.
Trust promotes loyalty in team members — if you have my back, I’ll have yours. Anytime 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. It might be impossible.
As the leader of your company, the trust and loyalty of team members begins with you.
When a team member is mistreated, their trust for and loyalty to that person and the organization is compromised. 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 or what they’re worth,
- failing to appreciate quality work, or
- recognizing solid effort
If these actions go on repeatedly, trust and loyalty will be destroyed.
Breaking promises and lying to team members constitutes yet another way to damage their loyalty. Lying to someone doesn’t foster trust. Doing so demonstrates you can’t be trusted. If you string people along or make promises you don’t intend to keep to get more out of them, you’ll create a mindset against you and your company.
Taking advantage of people for personal gain is yet another way to damage and even destroy professional relationships. Repeatedly demanding a team member put in more and more time, perform additional tasks, or otherwise go above and beyond without meaningful recognition, verbal appreciation or even financial rewards fosters mistrust and disloyalty. People don’t respond well to being used.
Reflect on 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.
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. Team members want to be treated fairly. When they are, in most cases they return the favor.
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.
The more you value your team members, the more they’ll value you and your business.
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.
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 efforts, and – perhaps most importantly – 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, though, when you hire effectively and foster these things in them first. Those team members who don’t lend themselves to trust and loyalty should be let go.
When your leadership fosters trust and loyalty in your people, your top talent will return the favor, 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.
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This article was written for and published in collaboration with The Business Times newspaper. Access the article here.