In my previous post on Loyalty I mentioned that in our uncertain times it’s much more logical to build Loyalty on the small scale of a specific Team or Department, than on a company level. People can’t be sure anymore that the company will stay around for long, or even if it does – that it will still have enough resources to employ them. But the same as in the older times people tended to stick to their neighbors and the local community, they will stick to their co-workers if they have some feeling of unity with them.
So how can we build that feeling?
You can approach the issue on several levels simultaneously.
First of all, you should consider building a “buddy system” I mentioned before. In addition to building temporary task-teams, you can assign people into pairs, based on their expertise and personal profiles. The basic rules for Team building I written about before will still apply here. Remember that pairing two people who are unable to work with each other or have nothing in common personally will not have the desired effect. However, when you’ll have coherent pairs of people instead of individuals as your basic Team building blocks, you will find that the general level of loyalty to the team has increased. The main reason for that would be that two people are already a team and because they practically stuck with each other – they have to compromise. And when people start to compromise for the common good – first on a pair level, and then on a team level, loyalty is born.
An additional way to induce loyalty is to build the “team spirit”. Now, what you have to remember here is that many usual ways that companies employ for this goal are much less effective than intended. Many times, team-building activities such as having a corporate party, a corporate trip or even inviting a specialist to engage the employees in a dedicated setup, bring more negative emotions than positive ones. Sometimes it’s because people will have to sacrifice their family activities for the corporate activities (and they may be not necessarily ready for this sacrifice yet) and when engaged in dedicated team-building activities they tend to remember how stupid they all felt when someone messed up the act (and someone always does).
So instead, you can engage the problem by communicating several universal messages to your team on every opportunity:
- What we are doing is important and no one does it better than us.
- Remember, that other departments always wait for us to fail – don’t give them the pleasure.
- I will never ask for sacrifices if they are not crucial for the success of the project. The sacrifices are not the norm, but a rare exception that should be accepted when happens.
- If we don’t make sacrifices – we will not succeed, and if this happens we will lose our precious resources.
- If one of us has a problem – the whole team does. No one is left behind but those who leave others behind.
If you can successfully communicate these messages, backing them up by your actions, you’ll behold how a group of opportunistic individuals turns into a Team. When coupled with the introduction of “buddy system”, the “team spirit” will turn your employees into loyal ones.