Every business owner understands the value of loyalty and we strive to keep our customers happy so that they come back to do business with us. It is a rare business owner who is the only person that interacts with customers, so my question is, have you built that same loyalty with your team so they are happy?
This past winter, much of the country experienced winter storms, impacting homes and businesses. Here are two examples of how business owners handled the disruption. In the first case the night before the storm hit the employees received a text, “Our business will be open tomorrow and we need to be able to serve customers. However, please be safe.”
The second business also contacted their employees via text, “We plan on being open tomorrow and serving customers. We recognize that some employees will have a difficult time driving due to the storm, and we value your safety. If you are not able to come to work, please let your supervisor know as soon as possible. Thanks!”
The intent of both messages was the same. However, in the first message, some employees felt they were being told to come in and the request to be safe was not sincere. Other employees interpreted the message as an invitation to not show up and did not bother to call in. This caused a great deal of tension with the team members who did show up. The second message not only sent a message of caring, it gave specific instructions. The result was very few employees calling in that they could not make it, and other team members were willing to pitch in and cover their duties.
Building loyal teams is the same process as building loyal customers. It starts with trust. Be true to your word and clearly communicate expectations. Sounds simple enough, right? Let’s start with the first point, be true to your word. If you have a policy in place, it applies to everyone. When you make exceptions, a policy becomes a suggestion, and it is difficult to treat everyone fairly. It is up to you to be the boss and maintain control of behavior and performance standards. Hold yourself accountable for your actions.
That leads to the next point about expectations. Each person should know what they are expected to do, and what they should not do. Quality and performance levels need to be communicated. Recognize when the standards are met and exceeded and gently coach improvements in a timely and professional manner.
You cannot hold someone accountable for what they do not know. It takes some effort to make sure each person understands their job duties. Having a training program in place, whether it is a manual, videos, or mentoring is a great place to start. A common mistake is assuming that someone has mastered a task because they have done it one time. Set the tone that questions are expected and welcome. Your patience and time will be rewarded with competent and confident employees.
Welcoming input from your team is another way to build trust and loyalty and solve problems. It tells the team that you value their ideas and develops ownership for their actions. An interesting situation I came across was in a large, busy medical practice. A new employee was expected to hand off a patient to someone in another department. It was challenging for her to find the right person, especially when everyone was wearing lab coats and face masks. The simple solution came from a fellow team member – name tags.
It really is true. Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers. Your team needs to trust you, and they need to understand how to do their jobs. When your people understand expectations, know that they are valued and will be treated fairly they will treat your customers and each other accordingly. Keep the bad weather outdoors and the amiable climate inside your business.
If you need help building and managing your team or building customer loyalty contact me for a free coaching session, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Sandy Merritt, Business Coach in Louisville, KY