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Build loyalty with engagement

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Many workplace experts argue that loyalty is dead-that even in a tough economy, top employees will quit if they're unhappy.

Yet the truth is more complex. You can sow seeds of loyalty with your stars if you create a work environment that stimulates them, says Terry Bacon, author of The Elements of Power. He is a scholar in residence at Korn/Ferry Institute.

Managing People at Work interviewed Bacon:

MPAW: How can you strengthen bonds with your best employees?

Bacon: Look for ways to share power and let them make their own decisions. Involve them in activities that matter to them. Micromanagers have a low level of engagement because they don't let employees make decisions.

MPAW: What if workers wind up making bad decisions?

Bacon: Treat people like adults. Create a supportive culture where they learn from their mistakes.

MPAW: What's another way to breed loyalty?

Bacon: Certain things matter to people: having them feel that their opinions are heard, their pay is fair, and they are recognized for their work efforts. You'll retain your best people if you do those three things.

MPAW: Employers often use surveys to gauge morale. Do surveys work?

Bacon: Yes, employee surveys play an important role. You can also meet privately with each employee and ask, "If you could make one change around here, what would it be?" If they reply, "Everything's fine," they're ducking the question. You want answers like, "We can improve profits by changing how we process orders."

MPAW: You say to "meet privately" with workers. How about in teams?

Bacon: You can do it as a team-building exercise, where you ask groups of employees to recommend changes to management. Then management can review all the recommendations and say to employees, "Help me select, prioritize and enact the top three things."

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