The Unexpected Trick to Hitting Your Numbers

Want to meet your goals and hit your numbers? Be fanatically loyal to your team.

If you’re the boss, this may seem heretical or at the very least counterintuitive. After all, don’t you want your employees to be loyal to you? Yes and no.

Consider how the employees who are loyal to you'll focus on making you happy rather creating positive outcomes for the business. Furthermore, if you recruit for loyalty as paramount to other attributes, you’ll be unable to attract top talent.

Top talent is more interested in evolving their skills than pledging allegiance to you.

Even if you can extract blind loyalty for a while, employees will eventually come to resent you. Just wait for one lousy quarter when you can’t deliver as promised, and you’ll find how shallow the relationship is. If you focus on investing in your team and having their back when things don’t go as planned, you’ll find they have your back, especially during downturns.

Let’s take a moment to define “fanatically” and “loyal.”

“Fanatically” is an adverb which by definition implies an active state. It's a qualifier adding context. “Fanatically” relates to the adjective, “Fanatic” which is defined as, “motivated or characterized by an extreme, uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.”

“Loyal,” also an adjective is defined as, “giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.”

The key to having high-performing, happy employees is to be motivated with a relentless enthusiasm to provide firm and constant support for every person on your team.

Never surrender to the easier path of least resistance when it comes to office politics. This sounds good on paper, but what does it look like? Speak open and often about this commitment, and make sure those who are watching know your passion for your people is unwavering.

Every boss wants a high-performing team if for no other reason than it makes their life easier. When employees are engaged and happy, they're more productive. Productivity leads to business outcomes, and business outcomes lead to personal rewards. Personal rewards monetary and all others are the reason we work. Giving people more of what has them suit up in the morning keeps them coming back, and most importantly keeps them happy.

Happiness in the workplace is elusive.

According to Gallup, only 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged. And then there are those on the other end of the spectrum—the unhappy ones which Gallup estimates nearly one out of five employees are actively disengaged. This state of discontent has remained largely constant over the years despite economic ups and downs. These employees are talking behind your back, purposefully delivering less than acceptable work, and generally contributing to the tension on their teams.

There’s a difference between loyalty and blind faith.

Blind faith implies a lack of understanding or comprehension—an uninformed choice. Fanatical loyalty is the opposite. To be fanatically loyal to your team, you must have a profound understanding of who they are, what they do, what motivates and inspires them and to connect how all of that creates value for them and the organization. You must take a holistic approach, or you'll miss key components that unlock potential.

Here are 3 things you can do immediately to create an environment for people to operate at peak performance:

1. Define Roles and Responsibilities

There’s nothing that makes employees more anxious and angry than a lack of clarity and accountability. Yet, most organizations lack clear and concise communication about what employees should be doing and when. Furthermore, organizations often err on the side of thinking a job description is the same thing as an understanding of the task and accountabilities and most importantly the hand-offs. If you get clear on tasks and the intention of the tasks and communicate those to employees, they'll have a sense of how their actions contribute or not to the collective outcome. There’s a lot of hype about how Millennials want to have a sense of purpose in their employment—and they aren’t the only generation. Even if people are working for money, they also want to know that what they do matters.

2. Get to Know Mindset not just Skillset

If there’s one area that most managers miss consistently it's not understanding the mindset of employees. We think people want what we want, and they don’t. Most managers spend too much time focusing on the skills and experience of their employees and creating development plans that include training and development.

That’s good, and people appreciate your investment in them. Only 17% of learning is remembered after a formal training course. To understand the motivations of an individual gives you access to development in the moment. There are motivations that people have for why they work, and how they like to work. By taking the time to understand these in advance, you're saying to the employee “I see you.” This personal attention can be explored with the employee to help them produce results.

The key to this approach isn’t about control; it’s about empowerment. The sooner a leader understands there are few things in life you can control, especially other people, the sooner they can put energy into unlocking productivity rather than being frustrated because people won’t do what you want. Many leaders don’t want to admit this because, in their minds, it means they're powerless. Being unable to control another doesn’t mean you're powerless, it means you put your power to use in different ways. Think about it as the power to vs. the power over.

3. Celebrate Exceptional Positive Moments

The management expert David Cooperider developed Appreciative Inquiry—a model that seeks to engage stakeholders in self-determined change. The premise that underpins artificial intelligence (AI) is that by beginning with an appreciative positive framework for looking at situations rather than a problem-solving perspective, new ideas emerged based on possibility vs. resignation or deficit-thinking.

Furthermore, AI is designed to claim strengths and leverage them. When are we functioning at our best? What characteristics are present? These positive stories capture what’s working and then celebrating it. This inventory of positivity frames the dialogue in such a way that people’s behaviors evolve in a positive way towards the future.

When we focus on dedicating greater efforts to our team, we experience the returns in many different ways—loyal team members, increased productivity, and the ability to reach our targets more easily.

Are you having trouble hitting your numbers or keeping your talent engaged? I can help!

Erin Gibson