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Keep it simple, make ‘em loyal

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

There’s no single secret to managing people. But two irreplaceable rules of smart supervision come close: Keep things simple and stoke employees’ loyalty.

By limiting the number of rules you want workers to follow, you increase the odds of compliance. They are more likely to do what you say if you make only a few vital demands and explain why they matter. That’s better than overcomplicating everyone’s job with extraneous regulations and do-this, don’t-do-this directives.

For inspiration, consider how Aldi conducts business. The German supermarket retailer limits the number of products it sells in its stores. If Aldi’s managers want to add a product, they must pull another one off the shelves first. This imposed simplicity reduces overhead. And because workers are responsible for tracking fewer items, they possess more product knowledge and are thus better equipped to assist shoppers.

In terms of breeding loyalty, here’s another example from the global supermarket industry. Asda Group in the U.K. recently announced steps for customers to wield more influence in how its stores are run. Shoppers can now test new products, offer packaging suggestions and earn cash rewards from Asda for proposing cost-cutting ideas.

You can cultivate loyal employees by partnering with them to improve the business operation. Give bonuses to individuals who submit money-saving ideas. Involve all levels of staff in shaping marketing campaigns and testing new processes or procedures. Invite employees to chime in on how to deploy company funds for philanthropy or community outreach.

The one-two punch of simplicity and loyalty strengthens your leadership.

You show faith in your workers by stipulating only a few nonnegotiable rules while largely leaving them alone to carry out their jobs. And they’ll want to stay put at your organization if you treat them like partners whose insights and opinions count.

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