Fostering employee loyalty is the first step to creating customer loyalty. Most businesses depend on loyal customers for their bread and butter, and occasionally for their gravy as well. We all have customers who will buy from us even when they can get a lower price somewhere else, or quicker turnaround, or better service.

But change all those “ors” into “ands” and your customers will start to question your loyalty to them. The same holds true for employees. You can’t keep them guessing how they will be treated and expect them to give their best to you.

I couldn’t agree more with Frederick Reichheld, author of Loyalty Rules!, who believes that loyalty is the fuel that drives financial success. Based on extensive research into companies from online start-ups to established institutions such as Harley-Davidson, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Cisco, Dell, Intuit and more, Reichheld reveals six bedrock principles of loyalty upon which leaders build enduring enterprises.

  1. Play to win/win. Never profit at the expense of partners.
  2. Be picky. Membership must be a privilege.
  3. Keep it simple. Reduce complexity for speed and flexibility.
  4. Reward the right results. Worthy partners deserve worthy goals.
  5. Listen hard and talk straight. Insist on honest, two-way communication and learning.
  6. Preach what you practice. Explain your principles, then live by them.

Could it be simpler?

John Akers, former chairman of IBM, puts loyalty in this context: “We’ve all heard shortsighted businessmen attribute a quote of Vince Lombardi: ‘Winning is not the most important thing; it’s the only thing.’ Well, that’s a good quote for firing up a team, but as an overarching philosophy it’s just baloney. I much prefer another Lombardi quote. He expected his players, he once said, to have three kinds of loyalty: to God, to their families and to the Green Bay Packers, in that order.”

 

Mackay’s Moral: Employees should be encouraged to ask questions, but they should never have to question your loyalty.

 

* Excerpted from  The Mackay MBA Of Selling in the Real World

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