Technically, I am a Baby Boomer, although I am right near the end of that generation and in some ways identify with Generation X‘ers as well. So call me a Boomer X. I mention that because early on, Baby Boomers were taught what the previous generation shared with them in terms of work and loyalty. You left school, went to work for a company and stayed with them your entire career (at their discretion). Very rarely did you have any control over what role you filled, whether or how you advanced, how you grew, when you retired, etc. You were expected to be loyal to the company at all costs. Very rarely was that loyalty returned. Some organizations rewarded loyalty by returning loyalty to their people, but most focused on punishing disloyalty and showing very little appreciation for those who were loyal. One of the reasons I identify with Generation X as well as the Boomers is that Generation X started to reject that. Generation Y and Millenials even more so.
This topic is also covered in the Ah-Ha! Moment of the Week!
Changing Loyalty Landscape
The landscape of what loyalty means in the business world has changed. Most people don’t stay with an organization more than about five years before they move on. You can attribute that to poor work ethic if you wish, or lack of loyalty; but the reality is simply that today’s worker refuses to buy into the one-way street of loyalty. They expect loyalty to be a two-way street. If they are loyal to the company they expect some loyalty in return. Since as a manager or business owner you will almost inevitably have to hire at least some people from Gen Y, you must change your thinking to follow that theme. Change your focus on what you expect out of loyalty. You have to be willing to commit resources to help somebody become better at what they do with the knowledge that they most likely will be with you forever and may eventually take what they have learned from you and go somewhere new. That’s the gamble of investing in people, but the alternative is a bigger gamble with consequences even more significant if you lose (and you will). So think in terms of how you can maximize your investment over the short term and long term. If you can get somebody up to speed, maximize what they can produce for you, and maximize their potential over the time period they are with you, then it’s a win-win.
So here’s some tips to help you along.
- Focus on Relationships — Building relationships with your employees. Understand their desires, understand their dreams so you can help them move towards that. Remember the three questions you must answer for them are do you care for me, can you help me, and can I trust you.
- Focus on Growth — Invest in your employees with formal training, modeling, mentoring, and providing them with challenges to push them out of their comfort zone. The more you can help them and move them closer to their potential, the better they are going to produce for you.
- Focus on Empowerment — Equip them and authorize them to take the steps they need to take to produce for you.
- Focus on Communication — Communicating with them at all times. ALL TIMES!
- Focus on NOW — Forget about forever. Work on building loyalty for the time they are with you, allowing them to give you the best return while you are giving the best to them.
Here’s the Bonus
When you invest in your employees and give them time, resources, training, caring, and influence – show them loyalty – then many of them will be loyal in return. Not all of them, maybe not even most of them. But the ones who count. Remember you are looking for the golden ones anyway; the ones who will yield greatest returns for you. You are mining for gold. As Dale Carnegie says,
“Developing your people is a lot like mining for gold. You have to move a lot of dirt to get to the gold. But you don’t go looking for the dirt, you go looking for the gold.”
- What will you do today to begin looking for the gold?
- How can you best invest in your employees for the short and long term?
- What are you willing to give up to reach that?