Leadership in Business and The Need to Be Connected

Many companies rely on financial incentives to “buy” loyalty from their employees. They pay higher salaries than the competition or offer deferred compensation such as stock options and generous pensions. And yes, this does provide a strong reason to stick around in a job, especially during and after a recession. But most people, believe it or not, find little inspiration in the almighty dollar. They may appreciate their salary and show up for work each day yet still lack the motivation to do their best.

Leadership in Business and The Need to Be Connected
James Harter of the Gallup research organization says that employee loyalty is based on a number of factors, including whether the employer “looks out for employees’ best interests, pays attention to their career path, gives them opportunities to improve their well-being and so forth.” Harter, referring to a survey done several years ago that analyzed the reasons people stay with or leave an organization, says that managers play a crucial role in this equation.
“If you’re looking for a silver bullet,” Harter says, “it is the quality of the relationship between an employee and his or her manager that determines the overall level of employee engagement. Good companies develop a growing list of great managers over time…It’s local level teams and how they are connected together by leaders and managers” that have the most impact.  Human nature, Harter adds, “doesn’t change when the economy changes. It might take on a different dynamic” during a recession, but what remains constant is “the need to be connected—to a manager, a coworker and/or a purpose, and also the need to be recognized.”
People’s perceptions of their own standards of living “did drop as the economy dropped,” he says. But that same drop was not registered in workplaces where employees said they have “someone who encourages their development. There is something about having a mentor, or someone in your life who helps you see the future in the midst of chaos, that can make a difference.”8

Deborah Small, marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, cites a body of research on what is called “procedural fairness,” indicating that much of what employees feel about an organization “is not the outcomes they get, but the processes. If people feel like processes are handled fairly in the organization, even if they don’t get the best for themselves,” they tend to be more loyal.

Research also shows that not all behavior is based on self-interest. “Sometimes,” Small says, “people do things at considerable cost to themselves, like sticking to a job with lower pay when they could move on and potentially earn more money. It’s because we care a lot about relationships and the welfare of others. When we have a relationship with our firm or colleagues, there is a social cost to leaving.”9
As the leader of your team, it’s up to you to establish these kinds of connections with your team in order to inspire loyalty. We’ve all had a boss who keeps his door shut most of the day, only appearing to point out someone’s mistake. You don’t want to be that guy. Instead, commit to cultivating a professional yet personal relationship with each person on your team.

Adapted excerpt from: “Inspired People Produce Results” – Jeremy Kingsley, McGraw-Hill (2013)

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