Loyalty starts on the inside

A likely candidate for the holy grail of business is customer loyalty. But in another you-can’t-get-there-from-here moment, something critical to achieving that loyalty gets short shift in the minds and wallets of too many organisations.

Team loyalty. Simply put you can’t build a great (or even good) brand if you have a revolving door of people working there.

This Inc article outlines the four things that help earn employee loyalty (and no, the size of their pay packet isn’t one of them). From the common sense of good communications and being consistent, to the often touted opportunity to do meaningful work, and the less talked about, but equally important, need to be a bad management free zone. All of these things add up to a place where people want to work and keep working.

And unsurprisingly, the things that inspire loyalty from a team look similar to the things that earn loyalty from customers. Communicate. Be consistent. Do good work. Don’t be mean.

Let’s start with communications. Tell me why I should care about you? What will you do and won’t you do? Don’t keep it to yourself — tell the people who work for you what’s going on. Tell them often. Use everyday human language, not jargon and HR speak. Don’t leave a vacuum for them to fill with their wonderings and expectations. And if that sounds an awful lot like the advice about communicating with customers you would be right.

For more on why an expectations gap’s not a good idea click here.

Now onto the mainstay of successful organisations and their brands: being consistent. If I can’t count on things, if they run hot and cold, supportive one minute, and every man for himself the next, or if the culture is a bit too much like a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, then chances are teams will be doing their work with one hand and searching the positions available with the other.

Consistency is king, but it is harder than it sounds (or more people would do it). It requires discipline and awareness to achieve (for more on how to be conscious and deliberate click here).

Feeling like I’m doing something that matters is a big driver for me when I decide what work I take on. And I know I’m not alone. The research is clear: the opportunity to do meaningful work motivates people. And I’m not talking about everyone needing to work towards world peace. The mere chance to be part of something that’s striving to make a difference, whatever the area that difference is in, can be enough. But don’t forget to communicate what that is and be consistent in doing it.

To round out the four — mean, bullying, bad managers need not apply. A delightfully titled management book called The fish rots from the head sums it up. Management is a complex topic, but an ingredient all good managers share is they walk their talk. They show what they stand for and what they won’t stand for every day. Unfortunately the same goes for bad managers — what they do sets the tone and can send people running for the exits to get away from the smell!

For reasons I can never quite figure out, the connection between a revolving door of people and the lack of repeat business on the customer side gets overlooked.

You can’t build a good (let alone great) brand with loyal customers if the organisation doesn’t have a loyal team. You can’t build a culture and deliver consistent service; or develop great products and services that people what to buy; or solve problems in new ways, make great big leaps in thinking or keep any promises.

When the so-called most valuable asset of any organisation is voting with their feet and going to the competition, why on earth wouldn’t customers follow them? They do. And that’s why loyalty has to start on the inside.

See you next week.

Michel is an Independent Brand Thinker and Adviser dedicated to helping you make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make – with a strong, resilient organisation and brand as the result. You can find Michel at michelhogan.com and Linkedin  or you can follow her on Twitter @michelhogan


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