31/05/2022Building Loyalty Through the ABC

Barry Katz

Communication is the basis of every relationship, both professional and personal. If we improve our communication, we will improve our relationships – and better relationships drive organizational success. The ABC we’re discussing in this blog is an acronym for three important aspects that create an environment of growth, achievement and employee retention.

What does ABC stand for?

Appreciation. Belonging. Connection.

This is literally the ABC, the basic, the almost too obvious feelings. But, having said that, we ask you to take a moment to reflect on what these words mean to you, personally.

Because while all three are crucial in every company culture, how we prioritize them and how we expect and express appreciation, belonging, and connection in a workplace is very individual.
Some may place belonging ahead of connection. For others, appreciation could be the deciding factor in staying or leaving a company. One thing is clear though. When there is a gap between how ABC is perceived by the organization and managers to how it is perceived by employees, there is a problem. This gap can greatly affect employee motivation, performance, and retention.

Feeling appreciated

Appreciation is the acknowledgment of a job well done, meeting or exceeding goals. We all want to be noticed, feel that our work is meaningful, and receive credit for our efforts.  

Ask a manager if s/he shows appreciation to their team and the answer will probably be “yes, absolutely.” Ask their team if they feel appreciated and they may give a very different answer.
Why does this happen? Different people expect to receive appreciation in different ways.
Just because you feel you are showing appreciation doesn’t mean people feel appreciated. While some crave being in the spotlight, others will cringe at being in the center of a public shoutout.

Find out what makes people feel important and then match the acknowledgement to the recipient’s interests. In some situations, a handwritten thank-you note and a box of chocolates would be perfect, while in other situations, it would not be the appropriate token of appreciation.

Whenever and however you show appreciation, make sure that it is clear exactly what you are appreciating. I spoke to an employee who got a reward for excellence but when I asked what he did to earn this reward, he honestly had no idea.

Take action to show appreciation:

  1. Find out how people expect and want to be appreciated.
  2. Manage expectations, and agree on the what, when, and how you can show appreciation.
  3. Give appreciation that is proportionate to the effort.

What makes you feel appreciated?

Feeling a sense of belonging (to a higher purpose)

A sense of belonging is about having a shared purpose, being a member of a community, a part of something significant and important, bigger than ourselves. It could be believing and identifying with the company’s products or service, or feeling aligned with the company’s values. And yes, belonging can be a feeling inspired by a company’s leaders.   

In other words, at the end of a day’s work, most people want to feel that they have made a meaningful contribution to something that creates value. This can include corporate responsibility, giving back to the community, and employees’ volunteering work sponsored by the organization.  When a company’s reason for being or way of doing business clashes with an employee’s personal values, it can cause friction and have a negative impact on their performance. Ultimately, it can contribute to increased employee churn. 

Take action to create a sense of belonging:

  1. Clearly communicate core values and the purpose of your organization, then show how these values turn into action.
  2. Involve employees in finding ways for the organization to make a contribution to the community.
  3. Invite employees to take initiative to work on something that they find meaningful. 

Feeling connected (to people)

Ironically, in a hyper-connected world, people are feeling more isolated and lonelier than ever before. Building close personal relationships is a basic human need and a strong motivator.

Liking the people you work with is a big deal. A strong personal connection may even override other problems like low pay, or a monotonous job.

Feeling a strong connection creates caring that leads to having a vested interest in helping others become successful. This feeling builds strong teams, can break down silos, and motivate collaboration.

Take action to create connection:

From the onboarding experience to the entire career path of every employee, make sure that you get to know the person behind the position. Let employees feel seen.

Create activities where people can connect and learn together and from each other, such as training, workshops, and networking events. Have synchronized coffee breaks.

Encourage engagement and collaboration.  Use words such as “we,” “our,” and “us” to describe and celebrate achievements.

How do you build meaningful relationships with the people you work with?

The outcome of focusing on ABC behaviors in an organization or a team is loyalty. In the time of the Great Resignation, high turnover, and employees looking for more than just an attractive pay package and cool stuff to eat in the cafeteria, loyalty is becoming rare. The ABC is not a magic formula and it takes effort and energy to first create and then sustain it, but it can go a long way to helping employees become the best versions of themselves. Just think of all the amazing ways organizations will benefit when this happens.

There’s a lot more to say about each of the ABCs.  What would you like to read more about in our upcoming blog?

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