By Alayna Curry
As a young college student, Sarah Robinson began working on a research assignment about companies with the best internal communities. This laid the foundation for her book and passion for building fierce loyalty among internal communities. Sarah says anyone can build that “Zappos-like” community where employees are happy and proud to say where they work.
First and foremost, what are the benefits of having a fiercely loyal community?
1) Increased Revenue – Loyal workers give and do more for their company. When someone leaves, it costs the company money to hire and train someone new.
2) Improved Market Research – Every employee is an ad for their company. They’re talking, so you better hope they’re saying something good!
3) Reduced Staff Turnover – Employees who are engaged and committed won’t leave. Talent retention isn’t about money, it’s about feeling like you’re part of something.
4) Better Customer Service – Staff members give what they receive. If you want them to deliver great customer service, you have to give it to them first.
5) It’s Just a Nice Place to Work – We do better work when we’re happy and work with other happy people.
Sarah’s simple model for building a legendary culture can work in any situation, but it takes time and commitment.
First and foremost, you need to find the frame of common interest. What holds your community together? The way to find it is to listen. Have lunch with the people in your office who are already engaged in this common interest and listen for their three distinct needs:
1) Belonging – They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They don’t just want to be a body in a cubicle.
2) Recognition – They need to know they’re being seen and heard, and that being seen and heard is valued.
3) Safety – They need to know they’re safe to be who they are and express their opinions without repercussion.
In order to make a loyal community thrive, you need to provide three things:
1) Connection – Make your staff feel connected to the vision and success of your organization.
2) Support – Employees want opportunities to get and give support to each other.
3) Predictability – Rules are important for structure. When will you meet? How often will you meet?
When people who need belonging, recognition and safety find an organization that offers connection, support and predictability, fiercely loyal communities are born. And the people that are part of these communities have three extremely valuable traits: pride, trust and passion.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, here are Sarah’s tips for accelerating your fiercely loyal community:
1) Make members feel valued and important. Don’t just say it. Show it.
2) Create something together.
3) Find a common enemy.
4) Create a culture of “we,” not “that department” or “those people.”
5) Empower members to make the community their own. Trust them and let them fall down.
6) Build in exclusivity. Human nature is to love being part of something that’s not for everyone.
7) Create a barrier to entry.
8) Stand for something bold.
9) Build an organizational structure with an eye towards pride, trust and passion.
10) Initiate opportunities for shared experiences.
11) LOVE YOUR COMMUNITY! They won’t love you first.
To learn more, pick up a copy of Sarah’s book, Fierce Loyalty, and follow her on Twitter @SarahRobinson.
Speaker Bio: Sarah Robinson is a business strategist, speaker and author of the Amazon best-selling book, Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities. Based in Birmingham, Ala., Robinson advises her international clients on how to build thriving, successful communities and set their companies apart from the pack.
She’s a regular guest expert at MSNBC and is ranked by both Forbes and Dun & Bradstreet as a top Twitter expert on entrepreneurship and small business. Robinson has also been a featured business expert at Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Recruiter.com, AOL.com, The DEX Entrepreneur’s Summit, LOHAS, Social Media Marketing World and the National Press Club.
Robinson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin and Communications from The University of Richmond where she graduated magna cum laude.
Learn more about Robinson and her book, “Fierce Loyalty,” at http://www.Fierce-Loyalty.com.