I was desperate and sought advice from a Tree Guru in Central Florida. After describing the strange growth pattern and dismal fruit production of a new planting, his advice was:
“Its not the tree’s fault. You brought it here. Make sure it has everything it needs as it grows. Care for it, like it was a member of your family. Put in the effort, harvest the results.”
His sage, albeit unfiltered wisdom translates into a bottom-line reminder for leaders:
People produce better results when they feel cared for.
Needs may vary, but your efforts to support growth and development will also inspire loyalty. Consider the critical nature of this approach in today’s ever challenging work environment. The following sequence of "4Bs" describe, in a very organic sense, what it takes to Cultivate A Loyal Environment and a leader’s responsibility to care for talent like “family”.
Begin with The Right Talent
“you brought it here”
A robust Recruitment Strategy will attract candidates . . . a lot of candidates, too many perhaps. Most will have prior experience appropriate for an open position. Experience is important, not a deal maker or breaker.
Interview to identify potential for satisfactory performance, with ample room for growth and development. Strive to measure alignment with your organization’s values and culture. The most qualified candidate will fit both the needs of the position and culture of your team . . . predictors of future loyalty.
“like a member of the family”
A well-organized and executed On-Boarding Program will ease New Talent’s transition into your environment. Cultivating loyalty now begins in earnest.
Follow the Tree Guru’s advice. Nurture and care for your employees like family. Make certain they have everything needed to grow and reach their potential. This goes beyond tools, resources, and training. Ask important “Everyday Questions”, virtually or in person, that you would want to be asked in their place: How do you feel today? Do you have everything you need to perform? What can I do to support you?
Balance questions with recognition, both praising performance and highlighting opportunities to improve. One may be easier to communicate than the other . . . balance is the key to promoting trust. Pay heed to verbal and non-verbal indications of engagement. Be in the work environment, be available to listen to informal feedback, and be careful of responding from a position of judgement.
Your presence should promote total transparency, an approachable dimension of genuine care and sincere interest.
Believe in the Potential of Your Team
Put in the effort, harvest the results.
As a leader, efforts to inspire your team will go so far. True loyalty exists when members of a team inspire each other.
Employees that respect and support each other practice joint accountability, provide better feedback, and produce higher quality results. Shift attention to supporting social needs such as treating others with respect, holding everyone accountable, sharing feedback and recognition, communicating goals, creating an environment of inclusion and fairness.
Promote a secure vision for the future through belief in your team’s potential. Aspire to achieve amazing results. This confidence and security will repel negative, external influences that might instill fear or anxiety.
Believe in Yourself
Cultivating loyalty begins with a look in the mirror. Measure the relationship you share with the organization, your leaders, and peers, through the lens of a front-line employee.
Leadership is a people taking care of people business. Believe in yourself, in the potential you have for achieving excellence, and then let it flow to those looking to you for guidance.
You will in turn, harvest the results.