This is Day 15 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday, Mark Silver showed us how to put our heart smack in the middle of building fierce loyalty. Today, author Jamie Notter turns the spotlight on using collaboration to build fierce loyalty. Good stuff!
Loyalty Through Collaboration
By: Jamie Notter| @JamieNotter
Everybody wants loyalty. In the business context, that means loyal employees, loyal customers, and loyal business partners. You want that stronger connection. You want people who will stay with you, keep your interests in mind, over time, even when things get rough or become unpredictable. That’s what loyalty is: when the seas get rough, the loyal ones stay the course, right by your side.
Understandably, we tend to look inward when figuring out how to secure these loyal partners. What can I/we do in order to earn the loyalty of these other people? Unfortunately this approach has an unintended side effect: it leads us down a path of treating loyalty as a transactional thing. I do x, y, or z, and that earns me the loyalty of my target audience.
Here’s the rub: it’s not about you. It’s about them. Loyalty is a relationship dynamic, not a transaction. And for the people who are your target audience (employees, customers, partners, etc.), the loyalty decision is ultimately in THEIR court, not yours. It’s something they develop inside themselves. They either feel loyalty, or they don’t.
So if you want their loyalty, I recommend starting with a focus on them, not you. Take a look, for example, at how you can collaborate with them more effectively. In Humanize, Maddie Grant and I write about collaboration as an integral part of becoming a more human organization. We look at organizational activities around things like “brand” and “strategy” and talk about what they would be like if they were truly collaborative. Where companies let their customers actually help define the brand (and even define the products and services). Where organizational “leaders” involve employees at all levels in making strategic choices (because your strategic environment rarely takes your strategic planning schedule into account when presenting you with opportunities).
This is different than how we usually do it. But by collaborating with people on things that you used to deliver to them (or at them), you stand a much better chance of gaining their loyalty. It means you will be giving up some control, and it’s going to demand a lot more clarity on your part (so yes, there are things you need to do). But in doing those things, you’re building a stronger relationship with the people that matter, and that’s where loyalty really starts.
So what could you do differently in your company that would generate more collaboration with the stakeholder groups whose loyalty you are seeking?
Jamie Notter is a vice president at Management Solutions Plus, Inc., where he leads the consulting division. He and Maddie Grant are co-authors of the book, Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World. www.humanizebook.com