Creating Employee Loyalty

By Lain Ehmann

Is company loyalty dead? Yes, says Howard Goldman, partner at Management Associates in San Carlos, Calif. and author of Choose What Works – The Proven Secrets of Professional Greatness (Midpoint Trade Books, 2004). “I think loyalty to companies is virtually nonexistent,” he explains. “Salespeople don’t work for the company. They work in a no-man’s-land somewhere between the company and the customer. That’s to say, they work for themselves.”So how is a manager to motivate, lead, and engender long-term support among a group of individual contributors? Here are a few of Goldman’s tips on how to build long-lasting relationships with your team members:

1. Find out what makes them tick. Appeal to what does motivate sales reps, says Goldman – namely, the desire to meet challenges successfully, particularly where those challenges are visible to other people. “The biggest myth about salespeople is that they work for money,” he says. Money’s only part of the equation; more important is the ability to demonstrate their proficiency.

2. Let them be heard. Goldman recommends integrating salespeople into a participatory board where they are given an equal voice in discussing and resolving business issues. This forum gives them a chance to suggest change upwards in a way that’s not perceived as complaining or whining, and also provides an opportunity for managers to share their challenges – and for team members to make recommendations. When people are part of change, they’re more likely to own it, protect it, and fulfill it, says Goldman.

3. Balance roles of coach and manager. The role of coach should not supersede the role of manager, Goldman says. The role of manager is to implement change, direct action, and achieve goals, while coaching involves “a relationship that is dedicated to improving performance,” Goldman continues. Both are necessary for you to be effective in your leadership position.

4. Make sure your team knows you’re “for” them. “If they feel you’re ‘for’ them, you can say virtually anything to them and they’ll perceive it as a contribution,” explains Goldman. To determine what kind of relationship you have, ask yourself questions such as, “Am I connected with this person?” “Would we have anything to talk about if we weren’t talking about business?” “How can I express myself and behave in ways that show I’m supportive?” “Would this person work for me in another company?” “If so, why?”

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