Happy New Year! At the start of a new year, it a good time to take stock, review your team and put together a plan to meet those targets and business goals. As team leader, it is important to identify the team’s qualities and express appreciation for the value your team brings to your organisation.

One quality that is often mentioned is loyalty.  Loyalty is highly desired, as loyalty is a great driver for good performance.  But is loyalty really the best driver?  Often we have come across loyal people, in that they will stay with us and get the job done, but they are not necessarily faithful.  Their eye is often looking at something or someone else.  As team leader, there is a sense that there is one foot out the door.

What is the difference between loyalty and faithfulness?”  Are they the same thing?  If not, what is the difference?

When thinking of faithfulness, I think of someone who is dedicated to the cause or the person.  There is no question as to whether the person is committed or not. A faithful person will do what it takes because they believe in it and are passionate about the cause or person.

Faithfulness is often described in the context of marriage.  The couple will stick with each other through good times and bad, as they are committed to being together, for each other, for life. 

Loyalty does not necessarily extend to faithfulness.  A loyal person may stay in the marriage, but not necessary remain faithful.  It’s like they are there but their heart is not committed to it any longer. The spark is gone, the passion has dried up. In these cases, loyalty can be tied to a sense of obligation, guilt or resignation to the choice of least effort.

Bringing it back to a business setting, generally once a team member has got over the probation period (honeymoon phase) the key driver to great performance is faithfulness.  However, there is a tipping point, where faithfulness can turn to loyalty. Whilst loyalty is not a bad quality, it is a vulnerable quality.  Loyalty can lead to complacency and apathy.  Work life becomes “same old, same old”.  Passion dries up, creativity decreases and productivity remains the same or goes backwards.

So, how as team leaders can we identify these warning signs?  What can we do to keep our team faithful?

  1. Clarity – let your team members know the big picture. Where are we going as an organisation? What is the big audacious goal? What are the targets for the month, quarter, year?  What is their part to play and how are they going to celebrate when the targets have been met.
  2. Recreation – take some time out as a team.  Do something together that is fun.  Give each other an opportunity to choose something different.  Plan it and do it. Don’t assume that someone else will take the initiative and come up with ideas.
  3. Communication – have more than one method of communicating.  Use tools for work progress status updates.  Have regular team meetings, and one-on-one performance appraisal at least once a year.
  4. Care – show you care by having opportunities for your team members to have ‘off the record’ talking time.  A coffee off-site, freedom to let them express their thoughts, concerns, or generally have a chat.
  5. Freedom – encourage your team members to explore their career, offering them opportunities for training or attend workshops that keep them inspired and refreshed.

The cost of bringing out faithfulness is far less than the cost of employee churn.  Breeding a business culture that fosters loyalty as well as faithfulness will directly impact on the bottom line. So take up the challenge this year and bring the best out of your team!