#229 from R&D
Innovator Volume 5, Number 8
Principles to Revitalize Employee Loyalty and Commitment
Dr. Harris is
president of The Jim Harris Group, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
(813-596-5749) that helps organizations build a loyal, productive,
and motivated workforce. He
is author of Getting
Employees to Fall in Love with Your Company (Amacom, New York,
1996), from which this article is adapted.
outplacements, restructurings, reorganizations, layoffs,
firings—whatever they’re called, their impact on employee
motivation and commitment is nothing short of devastating.
All companies who want to thrive within today’s
competitive marketplace must successfully address a critical
In an unstable,
lean and mean business world, how can we regain the lost loyalty
and commitment of today’s employee?
Here are five
principles embraced by the world’s best-run companies that help
revitalize employee loyalty and commitment.
#1: Capture the Heart
possible with a disengaged heart?
Progressive companies embrace the advice of legendary
football coach, Vince Lombardi, who once told the American
Management Association that “Heartpower is the strength of your
Companies such as
The Walt Disney Corporation (“We create happiness”),
Service-Master (“Honoring God in all we do”), and Southwest
Airlines (“Have fun and make a profit”) capture the hearts of
their people through compelling visions.
Other organizations such as Brinker International
(headquarters miniature golf contests) and Silicon Graphics (water
cannon battles) create heart power through celebration and
injecting fun into the workplace.
give their best efforts if they feel “connected” to the
company, if they are “in the loop” and kept informed on all
company issues. Most
important, they need to know that their opinions matter and that
management is 100% interested in their input.
Corporation opens communication through placing huge posters
throughout their manufacturing facilities with ten questions for
all employees to ask each other; questions such as:
“What took too long today?”
“What requires too many sign-offs?” and “What is just
plain silly?” The headquarters accountants at Ameritech eliminated over six
million pages of financial report preparation and distribution by
simply traveling to each office, holding up one report at a time,
and asking field managers, “Do you need this report?”
the word employee as “one who works for wages or
salary.” He defines
partner as “one or more persons engaged in the same
business enterprise and sharing in its profits or losses.”
Under which definition would you give your best efforts?
Obviously, the 90’s workers are ones who will only give
their best efforts to an organization if they feel they are a
vitally important part of the organization.
unnecessary status barriers between work colleagues, progressive
thinking companies like Chaparral Steel and Nucor Steel have
eliminated time clocks and docking worker’s pay—both seen as
“distrust” rather than “trust” systems.
Organizations ranging from The Home Depot to East Jefferson
Hospital operate on a first-name basis.
Even the MDs at East Jefferson use their first names on
their name tags. Many
forward-thinking companies like Springfield ReManufacturing, North
American Tool And Die, and Lincoln Electric openly share their
financial numbers with all employees and have incentive bonus
structures for every worker, sharing the good times as well as the
team at Kwik Kopy creates strong partnerships through serving
their front-line first by calling every one of their over 1,000
franchises every month and asking them to:
1) rate the headquarters staff on a scale of 1 to 10, and
2) give us one thing we can do for you.
#4: Drive Learning
long-term competitive advantage for any organization is the
collective brain power of its people.
With an entire staff of excited, brain-in-gear,
cutting-edge thinkers, a company can be an industry leader.
But, without an entire staff of excited, brain-in-gear,
cutting-edge thinkers, a company is always vulnerable to fast
Michael Brown, Chief Financial Officer of Microsoft, says it best:
“The only way to compete today is make your intellectual
capital obsolete before anyone else does.”
Raychem, General Electric, Allied Signal, and Allstate Insurance
offer their people the guarantee of lifetime employability
(through job sharing, extensive training, and perpetual skills
refinement and enhancement) rather than lifetime employment
(an impossible promise of a lifetime job).
Johnsonville Foods promotes lifelong learning through
encouraging all employees to attend any training
class—regardless of its direct applicability to their current
jobs. Sequent Computers places “Bozo Boxes” (cardboard boxes
with a hole in the top) throughout their facilities so that every
time an employee complains about a customer, the employee must
deposit twenty-five cents in the nearest Bozo Box to visibly
reinforce the importance of not talking disparagingly about
#5: Emancipate Action
companies, the concept of empowerment is seen as management
giving employees “permission to follow policy.”
Today’s most successful companies understand that, in
order to revitalize commitment and loyalty, they must give
employees the “freedom to succeed,” to emancipate their
actions toward world-class quality and customer service.
walks the talk of giving employees the freedom to fail and try
again through their operation principle:
“We reserve the right to make mistakes.”
MCI’s unwritten philosophy is that they don’t shoot
managers who make mistakes—they shoot managers who don’t take
risks. Hershey Foods
gives an annual award to those employees with enough guts to
challenge the status-quo and stand up for what they believe in.
The award is called “The Exalted Order of the Extended
has a one-rule personnel policy.
It reads, “Rule #1:
Use your good judgment in all situations.
There will be no other rules.”
The Ritz-Carlton allows any employee up to $2,000 to do
anything they must to rectify a customer complaint
on-the-spot—no questions asked!
principles that today’s best-run companies actively embrace and
make a vital part of their culture.
By integrating these principles into your unique culture,
you will untap and release your company’s one true competitive
advantage—the passionate results-focused commitment of your