Keep Exceptional Employees By Building Team Loyalty
Laura, an entrepreneur from Allegheny, asked us this business question:
“I need to learn how to keep staff and retain the team members I have. How do I create loyalty?”
First of all, kudos to you for thinking about this important aspect of running a small business! Developing loyalty among your staff doesn’t just speak to your knowledge around the cost of turnover — it also speaks to your desire to lead a dedicated and happy team.
Team loyalty starts with a focus on values and culture, as well as transparency and giving the “why” whenever you’re able. Everyone should know from the start what it’s like to work at your small business.
For example: There once was a company that planned for high turnover and managed their team based on high turnover. (Think: extremely rigid rules around late arrivals, very little PTO or personal leave, and absolutely no consideration for personal needs, emergencies, etc). Guess what? That company maintained and even increased its turnover with these policies! What an expensive and, frankly, short-sighted policy to have as a business.
That’s why it’s important to understand the following points to help create a baseline for keeping and retaining staff at your small business. Here’s what you need.
1. A clear understanding of your values & culture
Your values are the beliefs and principles that drive your small business. As the owner, you need a clear understanding of what those values are. To make it easy for everyone, write them down, make them accessible to your team, and openly promote them across your company.
Your organization’s culture — its tone, day-to-day happenings, expectations for yourself and team members — should also be broadly understood.
Be honest with yourself, does the idea of an unlimited vacation policy make your eye twitch? Then don’t have that policy! Come up with policies and a culture that’s reasonable for your vision of your organization. Again, make it easy and write it down (in an employee handbook even). Be clear about it with yourself, really picture how you want your team to interact, and develop your culture and the policies that inform that culture appropriately.
2. Clear communication of your values & culture
This part cannot be overstated — communicate your values and culture as soon as it feels reasonable in the hiring process. Reiterate your values and culture in the onboarding process. Review your values and culture during 90-day work reviews. Every chance you have to ingrain your small business’ values early on is a chance to ensure there are no surprises for new team members as they become an integral part of your organization.
3. Upholding and living those values & culture
Allow your team to challenge one another and you if they think someone is materially deviating from the values and culture you described. This allows staff to feel valuable, as though they’re part of the culture, and also helps them take ownership over upholding the values and culture of their team. Be consistent. Don’t allow one person to bend the rules — it’s all or nothing.
4. Transparency, or giving the “why”
Always be open to questions about your values and culture and be very willing to be open about the “why” behind them. If one of your values is being “growth-minded,” for example, you need to be ready to share what that means with your team and why you chose that as a value. If your expectation is your team should be growth-minded alongside you, you need to tell them why.
There are so many other considerations for creating team member loyalty and reducing turnover at your small business, but it all starts with expectation setting at the time of hiring and then upholding those expectations. Take a second to understand your values, write them down, and start communicating openly and transparently with your entire team.