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Partners and employees who are no longer happy, committed and loyal to the company will perform lower and produce less. They will either leave the company (never at the right time) or “quit and stay.” Although it will be natural for some to go for various reasons, in most cases, keeping your team present and fully engaged will be an ongoing priority.
Though there are some obvious differences, business partnerships are not significantly different than romantic ones. They both require loyalty and commitment to endure and stay fruitful. Both involve people. And people are not all that different. All people share typical desires and needs that, if left unmet, will cause them to either leave or check out.
According to marriage and relationship experts John and Julie Gottman, trust and commitment are the cornerstones of any successful long-term relationship. Wouldn’t you agree that a significant factor in a successful long-term company would also be trust and commitment within?
In Eight Dates, the Gottmans provide strategies to increase trust and commitment in a relationship. Given the unique nature of romantic relationships, not all couples’ interactions can be applied to professional relationships — but some can. Here are four ideas, or “dates,” to increase your team and employees’ loyalty and commitment and ultimately sustain and even increase your collective performance.
1. Build and talk about trust and commitment
People don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. Your employees and team want someone who they can trust and know will be on their side. They’re not looking for a lover, but someone who will not betray them in the future. Work betrayal is an unfortunately ordinary reality too many people have experienced or see as inevitable. Be different and be someone people can trust.
The Gottmans suggest asking the person the last time they felt you broke their trust or how you can build trust with them.
In the popular communication book Crucial Conversations, the authors go into what it takes to build trust with another person. Building trust, they write, involves creating a safe environment. What that means for employers and managers is letting people talk and ask questions and avoiding talking over others or squashing ideas.
To maintain and increase team commitment and loyalty, talk to your team about them and how you can build them together.
2. Acknowledge your differences
Just as there are differences between individuals in romantic relationships that will never and do not necessarily need to be overcome, so too are there bound to be differences among people in work relationships.
When building trust and commitment, you and your teammates can discuss your differences. This could involve simply going over a personality assessment and discussing each other’s’ various strengths and weaknesses. It might include sharing a vulnerable moment or two.
To keep your team committed and loyal, have honest conversations about your differences and weaknesses to develop understanding and compassion.
3. Make fun and adventure normal
According to research by Howard Markman, director of the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies, couples who have fun together are happier. Lack of fun and adventure in a loving relationship can end marriages and break up families. Imagine what would happen if employees never had fun at work?
Incorporating staff fun days and weekly or daily happy hours — something dedicated to having fun — will increase your team’s happiness and loyalty. You don’t need a ball pit or a ton of alcohol. Instead, do something once in a while that prioritizes your team’s happiness over the company’s profits.
To keep your team committed and loyal, ensure there are opportunities for fun and adventure throughout the week and year.
4. Help them grow
Part of a long, loving and lasting relationship is growth. Whether it’s, “You complete me,” or “You make me a better person,” people experience growth and transformation in their most profound relationships. Companies should seek ways to help and enable their employees to feel a sense of completion and betterment.
If you have someone passionate about what they do, provide opportunities for them to grow — or risk them leaving to find these opportunities elsewhere. In Drive, Daniel Pink suggests that people are driven primarily not by tangible things such as money but by the intangible. One of those intangibles is mastery, a desire to grow and become an expert or master in their field.
To keep your team members committed and loyal, commit to their growth. Have intentional conversations about their passions and dreams and how you can help them follow them. Help your people become masters of their fields and reap the benefits of their expertise.
A committed and loyal partnership
Unfortunately, in our world day, romantic relationships are becoming increasingly shorter. Commitment and trust are becoming rare commodities.
Suppose people are increasingly leaving or silently giving up and staying in their most important relationships. How much more are people doing so with their employers?
To survive and thrive today and in the future, companies will need to begin treating all their employees as partners and pursue the building of trust and commitment as a priority. If done successfully, they will have a workforce that will not leave the first chance they get and will be committed to working together.