Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is a cult classic. I wanted to have that laser gun while beating up aliens throughout the galaxy. If you don’t know, Buck was from the 20th Century. He was in some sort of frozen hyper-sleep in his ship which was then found in the 25th Century. He was resuscitated, began to acclimate to the new world order and was given a weapon. Buck, though a stranger to the new world, jumped in devotedly to the “good guys’ cause.”
Devotion is a trait business owners want from their staff. It’s one of those loyalty-based considerations that we readily equate to employee engagement. And yet, what is loyalty? Most HR professionals have differing definitions, let alone the various definitions that other C-Suite executives would have.
- Years of service
- Working long hours (usually with no additional perks)
- Taking on crap jobs that no one else wants
- Believing in the various missions and visions of the organization through the years
There are plenty of definitions or highlights of a loyal person, but do they shed light on what loyalty really is? Is loyalty just about the job you’re doing or hope to do? Ideally, engagement and devotion are to be characteristics of stability in the organization. If it’s easily moved by the work of the day, then there can be no confidence in it.
Instead, loyalty is connected to a belief in success. The Loyalty Research Company (right?) defines loyal employees as “being committed to the success of the organization. They believe that working for this organization is their best option . . . and loyal employees do not actively search for alternative employment and are not responsive to offers.” And while we can debate the idea of moving on as being, at times, in the best interest of the employee so as to improve skills, widen job responsibilities and broaden industry knowledge, it’s the first portion of the definition that’s intriguing.
Do your staff believe that working for the company is their best option? What a heart-of-the-matter question! It may be an option to work for this company, but is it the best option? Engagement as it relates to this is clear – are your folks connected to what the organization is doing, how they contribute to it and how they’re recognized for it? Loyalty is a commodity that companies desire, but don’t do much to cultivate.
Think about how you set up the company to be the best option. Those performance reviews, appraisals, huddles, etc. should consist of content that drives considerations around the best that the company has to offer. For most, these times are reactive and responsive in nature. It’s problem or circumstance oriented. The view is downward. It focused on how we can handle what is happening right now and only right now. The “best” is never encouraged when you’re only looking down. Motivation towards the bigger picture is a clear path towards an understanding of ultimate success, fit and contribution. These are areas employees should understand well.
Loyalty is then a by-product. We can work towards such devotion by allowing employees in to our plans and strategies. And as much as we clamor for transparency, it’s difficult for us to offer it. We are fearful that if we offer too much, we will compromise our managerial role or authority. Cultivate true partners, not merely robotic, subordinate do-ers.
The only robots that should be walking around your office is Twiki. And if you don’t know him…I just can’t.