In A Transactional World, Loyalty Is Just Not Believable.

We’ve all read the case studies. We’ve all been taught the principles. When you are managing a business you need to foster the loyalty of your staff and suppliers. We spend money on staff climate studies to help us gauge how well we are doing at fostering loyalty amongst our staff and more money on the initiatives to generate loyalty. And – if truth be told – I have also been one of those people who have lazily used the words “People are our business” in a former life and consciously played the loyalty card with staff.

The more experience you get in management the more you realise that loyalty is a myth.

The recent period for retail businesses – ‘right-sizing’ to meet their expectations of the effects of the so-called global financial crisis – was a case in point. Many people who invested huge amounts of personal energy in their jobs, in the mistaken belief that they were secure, watched as their jobs and those of their friends and colleagues evaporated.

We live in a transactional world. Without profit there is no future. And everyone gets it.

Employees aren’t loyal and employers aren’t loyal. Everything revolves around relevance and motivation. The words need to change because nobody – customers or staff – believe in loyalty anymore. Instead of fighting it and becoming more and more frustrated or sounding more and more disingenuous, try going with it and focussing on what will really make you a better employer. It’s a transactional world and as long as both sides achieve the desired outcomes most of the time, we’re all going to be happy.

What will make you more relevant to the customer’s you serve and the people who will deliver the customer experience and the sales and profit for your business? What will motivate them to go the extra mile? What do you need to be delivered in order to ensure that you see your staff as relevant on an ongoing basis? How effectively do you reinforce that in a way that is still motivational?

Today’s best practice people managers are not men and women who exploit loyalty, they are motivators as effective as any sporting coach. They take the time to understand what is required to stimulate people and to make the workplace, conditions of work, teamwork and all the aspects of employment as relevant as they can be for both customers and staff and to achieve targeted outcomes.

Retail is about creating transactional spaces where people come together to profit from their interactions. Profit on both a physical and emotional level. Profit on both a conscious and sub-conscious level. Profit in a transactional sense that is mutually rewarding. And above all in a way that makes all parties want to do it again – more often and even more rewardingly.

It might seem like semantics. But semantics count in communication and bullshit just won’t fly anymore. Perhaps one day if the world changes, loyalty might come back into fashion. But in the real word we live in, relevance and motivation are the keys to success if they weren’t always.