Employee loyalty

Unlocking 'the 4 Cs' to Create a Fiercely Loyal Corporate Culture

Unlocking 'the 4 Cs' to Create a Fiercely Loyal Corporate Culture
Image credit: Daniele Zedda via Flickr
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If you're in the habit of watching the pundits on TV scream about the unemployment rate, it may be easy to assume that people are lined up begging to take that position offered. . . right? Not so much.

Related: How Thoughtful Leaders Earn Employee Loyalty

Many employers have discovered that the power balance has shifted from the employer to the employee. As a result, business owners can end up feeling so desperate to fill positions that they’re willing to employ whomever they can. 

Conversely, employers who have been fortunate enough to find a few key, vital people may wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, terrified that one or all of these essential people will get a better offer and leave. 

Your biggest challenge, then, actually consists of two sides of the same coin: How do you attract great people, and once you’ve attracted them, how do you keep them not just loyal, but fiercely loyal? This may well be the biggest question facing your business today. Because the fact is that the strategies entrepreneurs have traditionally used to create loyalty no longer work. It’s time for change!

Here's where the 4Cs of corporate culture come inIn my experience as a leadership and corporate-culture strategist, I’ve learned that if you want to build a fiercely loyal corporate culture, you need what I call the 4 Cs: cooperation, collaboration, contribution and community.

Cooperation and collaboration

When thinking about cooperation and collaboration, you may find it useful to consider the world of software development and open-source projects. Developers participating in such a project are often the same people who would be in competition were this a proprietary project. What's more, these same developers working in an open source environment usually cooperate at levels higher than those used in proprietary software creation.

In open source, the design phase is usually completely open, with all developers collaborating. During the coding phase, it is quite common for a developer to read and fix bugs in the code being developed by another developer -- without any animosity at all.

The flow of information on such projects is usually  high, and problems are solved by consensus rather than by one person trying to outdo his or her colleagues in terms of glory, status or financial gain. All of this collaboration, in addition to being highly effective, usually prompts the developers to commit more strongly to the project, which in turn makes their work easier.

Related: Methods for Building Employee Loyalty

Contribution and community

The next two Cs are contribution and community. These are major forces when it comes to keeping today’s top talent fiercely loyal. If you want to keep your top talent, particularly millennial talent, you’d better be doing business from the standpoint of "making a difference."

This means not only producing products or services that people love so much they rave about them to everyone they know, but also creating a corporate culture where contributing to the community is part of the organization's DNA.

You need to foster a genuine culture where individuals who work for you are proud to say they are part of your organization. Your people must have certainty that your organization cares both about what it’s doing and the impact it has on the community.

Authentic community development

I wrote earlier about how the balance of power has shifted. One reason is that individuals, organizations and brands live in a social media community. Therefore, contribution and community must be tied together, because as an organization wanting fiercely loyal employees and customers, yours will rely upon the dialogue that can take place only in an authentic community.

So a key component here is open and honest communication, where members may say what they feel, even if what they say about you is not so great. This environment encourages a constant flow of dialogue in a nondefensive atmosphere. Another must is that the community be a place where members take ownership because everyone involved gives and receives value.

This isn’t always easy to create or maintain. That’s why community development is an ongoing process you must commit to if you want to create a fiercely loyal corporate culture. It all comes down to this: Love your people because, if you don’t, someone else will. And replacing great people is not only difficult, it’s very expensive.

Sybil F. Stershic, author of Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care, put it best: “The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.”

Owning the 4 Cs

There’s no guarantee that implementing the 4 Cs will ensure fierce loyalty, but it’s certain that if you don’t begin to institute cooperation, collaboration, contribution and community in your company, you will essentially be deaf to the voices of your fans and critics; and that’s a price that no company wanting to stick around can afford.

Related: Richard Branson on Why Making Employees Happy Pays Off