Everything I Need to Know About Loyalty I Learned From My Dogs

June 12, 2016 Deb Broderson

I think about loyalty and motivation quite a lot.  That's probably not strange given that I work for a loyalty company.  The other day it dawned on me that my dogs have taught me (almost) everything I need to know about loyalty and motivation.  How can that be?  Let's do a countdown. 

Learning # 1.  Cooper, an amazing Golden Retriever taught me that happiness is contagious.  I mean,  look at that fabulous face.  Who could be sad when a face like that is looking back at you?  Not me, not anyone in our house.  That smiling face would always make us feel better,  no matter what had taken place that day.  

The facts are that, emotions are contagious.  Happy people "breed" more happy people.  This matters to your business because happy people are more productive,  and not just a little bit more productive, between 12 and 20% more productive.   Multiply that out by a few hundred (or a few thousand) employees to imagine the financial impact to your organization.  

Having scientific support for generating happiness-productivity cycles within the workforce should … help managers to justify work-practices aimed at boosting happiness on productivity grounds.1

Learning #2. Bonnie and Clyde,  two rescue Golden Retrievers understood that loyalty isn't bought, it's earned.  These two were raised together, then given up to an animal rescue  where we adopted them. Through thick and thin,  they stuck together, sharing everything, (including the couch.) They were a team.  Bonnie loved pulling the apricots off the tree,  and Clyde loved to eat them.  

The concept that loyalty can't be bought is a tough lesson for some companies because sometimes the quickest and easiest response to poor employee engagement scores is an employee recognition program.  However, a recognition program, without addressing the underlying issues of WHY employees aren't engaged will not provide the desired long-term results.  Money alone does not earn employee loyalty.  Employees want to be part of a team and have trust in their team-mates and their managers.  

Learning #3.  Denali, a German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix is the smartest dog I've even known.  In her youth she could not be confined.  She loved being free and patrolling the property.  She knew her job, loved doing it and did it very well.  Even when she was relaxing,  she positioned herself to have the best view and she was relentless - squirrels and rabbits did not dare enter her perimeter.  She made her own bed (literally),  even though she had real dog beds available to her. 

What's the tie-in to employee loyalty?  Just as Denali knew her job and understood what she needed to accomplish, so do your employees.  We all need understand our purpose(2), and the impact we have on the success of our company.   

One way that leaders can ensure employees are engaged is to ensure that they are thinking,
“I belong here.(2)"

Learning #4 Training is key. While this picture may look like three family pets just hanging out,  it took two months of training the black dog (Rex) to not eat the cat (Katie.)  When we brought Rex home from the animal rescue we did not know what his reaction would be to the cat, but we quickly discovered that it was not good.  We invested in training Rex, both financially (hiring a trainer) and emotionally (we had consistent training times and incorporated the entire family.)  Believe me when I tell you that there were days where I doubted that we were ever going to be able to keep our cat safe.

The linkage to loyalty? Train your employees well.  You believed in them enough to hire them, making sure they are successful will make only them more loyal to their manager and the organization.  As Richard Branson has been quoted saying:

Train your employees well enough so that they can leave,  treat them well enough they they don't want to.

So,  here are the four key lessons about loyalty that I learned from my dogs:

  1. Smiles are contagious. Make sure employees can have fun at work. The payback is immense.
  2. Don't launch an employee recognition until you've spent the time understanding the core issues affecting your organizations.  
  3. There is no replacement for a sense of belonging.  Make sure your employees understand their value to your organization.  
  4. All employees need training.  Sometimes it will be about products,  sometimes about process, sometimes about your company culture.  

Want some more information about employee engagement?  Check out the Perks Resource Library.  

References:

(1) Study: Being happy at work rally makes you more productive  http://fortune.com/2015/10/29/happy-productivity-work/

(2) How a sense of purpose boosts engagement http://www.inc.com/adam-vaccaro/purpose-employee-engagement.html 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Deb Broderson

Deb Broderson comes to Perks with 30 years of diverse experience leading channel marketing, marketing operations and program management teams within the technology industry. Deb has provided strategic direction to Fortune 500 clients, developed and executed global, multi-channel, go-to-market strategies and created worldwide field marketing organizations. Deb has worked on both the agency and client-side of the business, providing a well-rounded perspective to client challenges. Deb was honored as one of the Top 50 Channel Chiefs in North America by CRN.

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