Time to Startup!

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Encouraging Team Loyalty, Even in Tough Times

Published on Mar 14, 2011


Read our article, 'Encouraging Team Loyalty, Even in Tough Times' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
Team LoyaltyAccording to Daniel Pink, the nature of loyalty in the workplace has changed in recent years. The author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink points to research suggesting that loyalty to the company itself—what he calls "vertical loyalty"—has been replaced by "horizontal loyalty"—commitment to colleagues and shared projects. As a result of this shift, the traditional means of encouraging loyalty—providing security, good pay, opportunities for advancement—while still important, are less important now than building a genuine sense of team among immediate colleagues. A few ways to do this:
  •  Acknowledge and respect individuals. It may sound contradictory to build teams by emphasizing individuals, but it works. Don't limit your praise for a job well done to a "go-team" message. Know how individuals contributed to a great outcome and thank them, specifically and individually, for those contributions. But it's not just about thanks where thanks are due. There's also the question of simple human respect. Saying "Good morning," or better yet, "Good morning, Cindy!" can go a long way toward building a sense of genuine community.
  • Stay in touch with the team mood.  Face-to-face is great, but you also want to offer opportunities for anonymous feedback. A good old-fashioned questionnaire can do the trick. In addition to the usual engagement questions, Mary Ann Masarech of BlessingWhite suggests adding questions directed at personal satisfaction: What are the aspects of your work that you like most? What would you like to learn? What are your aspirations? Which of your talents gives you the greatest satisfaction?
  • Make jobs engaging. The 2011 Employee Engagement Report from BlessingWhite suggests that a sense of purpose, opportunities for mastery, and autonomy are among the features that encourage loyalty to a given job. The Work Foundation's Good Jobs Report identified several additional features, including task variety, workplace friendships, fairness, and a good balance between effort and reward.
  • Keep team members in touch with the big picture. Remind them why their work is important. Build excitement for the company's goals. Keep them in the loop with continual feedback about the impact their work is having on those goals.
Don't allow your attention to the details of team loyalty to become something you do when you have time, or you'll never do it. Make it a regular part of your job and the jobs of others who care about building a healthy and stable workplace.