It happens. Careers change, businesses evolve, and people give their two weeks notice.
For managers, employee turnover can be costly. Training takes time, and new workers are unlikely to be as productive as seasoned veterans. How, then, does a manager create job loyalty in a job market rife with turnover?
It is the people who are the game changers. Managers can reduce job turnover and increase team productivity by building loyalty. A manager can build loyalty by creating a strong relationship with the team. Here’s how I do it.
One key reason why people stay at companies is they have a great relationship with their boss. People work for their boss first. If they have a great experience working for their boss every day, they are more likely to be fulfilled in their work and they are more likely to be loyal. The relationship you have with your employees will help determine whether or not they, and you, leave the office each day fulfilled and excited to come back in the morning.
Three Components of the Loyalty-Building Relationship
If you want to create loyalty in your team, you must build trust, make it personal and push for openness. Master these three relationship-building skills and you will be on your way to building a strong, loyal team.
1. Build Trust – Employees need to be able to talk to you and be confident that what they are sharing is being heard. Leaders must learn to listen and empathize. Trust is key to the relationship. You and your employee must believe you are working toward a common goal, and that by working together you can find a way that is best for everyone.
2. Make it Personal – In order to build trust with someone, you must first care about them. Successful companies are created by people who love what they do. These companies are built by workers who are fulfilled. As leaders, we can contribute to our employees’ job fulfillment by focusing on them as people first, and not just as parts of the machine. To do this, you must truly care about the personal growth, development and well-being of the people you lead.
3. Push for Openness - Leaders should be asking employees questions: Are you energized about this job? What can we be doing better? They should give employees room to say what they think. Often, people just want to be heard. If your employees keep their frustrations inside, or feel like their concerns are brushed aside, the frustration will only get worse. If they can speak freely and feel that you are really listening, it doesn't mean that you solved that problem, but at least it's on the table.
If you have not built a relationship with your employee from the start, then by the time something is wrong, when they are unhappy and are considering leaving the company, you are too late. I know of too many situations in which a long-time employee has walked into their boss’s office and just resigned. No conversation, no telling the boss they were struggling or unhappy – a total surprise.
If you have a relationship with the employee, they will have the trust to be able to say to you, “this is just not working well for me, and I'm not looking for a job yet, but I might. And here's why...” I would respect that. You have to respect that. It gives you a chance to make some adjustments to improve the situation. By cultivating a relationship, I have the opportunity to try to find a solution that will allow me to keep a valuable team member.
Employees will continue to change jobs, even those who have a great relationship with their boss. People, and their needs and goals, evolve. Jobs, like all things, come to an end. Having a relationship with your team will, however, make them more fulfilled and more productive in their work, and make them more likely to stay longer. You will not only get a team that has a higher overall productivity, you will likely be more fulfilled in your job too.
By Mark Weber, Senior Vice President, NetApp, Americas