LOYALTY AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN EFFICIENCY
DELAYED by a train of accidents, a big contractor faced forfeiture of his bond on a city tunnel costing millions of dollars. He had exhausted his ingenuity and his resources to comply with the terms of his contract, but had failed. Because public opinion had been condemning concessions on other jobs on flimsy grounds, the authorities refused to extend the time allowed for completing the work. By canceling the contract, collecting the penalty, and reletting the task, the city would profit without exceeding its legal rights.
In his dilemma, he called his foremen together and explained the situation to them. ``Tell the men,'' he said. Many of these had been members of his organization for years, moving with him from one undertaking to the next, looking to him for employment, for help in dull seasons or in times of misfortune, repaying him with interest in their tasks and a certain rough attachment.
He had been unusually considerate, adopting every possible safeguard for their protection, recognizing their union, employing three shifts of men, paying more than the required scale when conditions were hard or dangerous.
A score of unions were represented in the organization: miners, masons, carpenters, plasterers, engineers, electricians, and many grades of helpers. Learning his plight, they rallied promptly to his aid. They appealed to their trades and to the central body of unions to intervene in his behalf with the city officials.
How One Considerate Employer was protected by his Men
As taxpayers, voters, and members of an organization potentially effective in politics, they approached the mayor and the department heads concerned. They pointed out— what was true—that the city's negligence in prospecting and charting the course of the tunnel was partly responsible for the contractor's failure. They pleaded that the city should make allowances rather than interrupt their employment, and that the delay in the work would counterbalance any advantage contingent on forfeiture. They promised also that if three additional months were given the contractor, they would *do all in their power to push construction.
The mayor yielded; the extension was granted. And the men made their promise good literally, waiving jealously guarded rights and sparing no effort to forward the undertaking. The miners, masons, carpenters, and specialists in other lines in which additional skilled men could not be secured labored frequently in twelve-hour shifts and accepted only the regular hourly rate for the overtime. With such zeal animating them, only one conclusion was possible. The tunnel was entirely completed before the ninety days of grace had expired.
Here was loyalty as stanch and effective as that which wins battlefields and creates nations. It increased the efficiency of the individual workers; it greatly augmented the effectiveness of the organization as a whole. It was developed, without appeal to sentiment, under conditions which make for division rather than cooperation between employer and employee. The men were unionists; wages, hours, and so on, were contract matters with the boss. Yet in an emergency, the tie between the tunnel builder and his men was strong enough to stand the strain of the fatiguing and long-continued effort necessary to complete the job and save the former from ruin. Like incidents, on perhaps a smaller and less dramatic scale, are not uncommon; but the historian of business has not yet risen to make them known.
Loyalty, to Nation or Organization, shows itself in an Emergency
As with patriotism, business loyalty needs some such crisis as this to evoke its expression. In peace the patriotism of citizens is rarely evident and is frequently called in question. In America we sometimes assume that it is a virtue belonging only to past generations. But every time the honor or integrity of the country is threatened, a multitude of eager citizens volunteer in its defense. Likewise, many a business man who has come to think his workmen interested only in the wages he pays them, discovers in his hour of need an unsuspected asset in their devotion to the welfare of the business, and their willingness to make sacrifices to bring it past the cape of storms.
Study of any field, of any single house, or of any of the periods of depression which have afflicted and corrected our industrial progress, will convince one of the unfailing and genuine loyalty of men to able and considerate employers. So generally true is this, indeed, that ``house patriotism,'' ``organization spirit,'' or ``loyalty to the management'' is accepted by all great executives as one of the essential elements in the day-by-day conduct of their enterprises.
Striking exhibitions of this loyalty may wait for an emergency. Unless it exists, however, unless it is apparent in the daily routine, there is immediate and relentless search for the antagonistic condition or method, which is robbing the force of present efficiency and future power. Cooperation of employees is the first purpose of organization. Without loyalty and team work the higher levels in output, quality, and service are impossible.
Loyalty on Part of Employer begets Loyalty in his Workers
The importance of loyalty in business could not readily be overestimated, even though its sole function were to secure united action on the part of the officers and men. Where no two men or groups of men were working to counter purposes, but all are united in a common purpose, the gain would be enormous, even though the amount of energy put forth by the individuals was not increased in the least. When to this fact of value in organized effort we add the accompanying psychological facts of increased efficiency by means of loyalty, we then begin to comprehend what it means to have or to lack loyalty.
The amount of work accomplished by an individual is subject to various conditions. The whole intellect, feeling, and will must work in unity to secure the best results. Where there is no heart in the work (absence of feeling) relatively little can be accomplished, even though the intellect be convinced and the will strained to the utmost. The employee who lacks loyalty to his employer can at least render but half-hearted service even though he strive to his utmost and though he be convinced that his financial salvation is dependent upon efficient service. The employer who secures the loyalty of his men not only secures better service, but he enables his men to accomplish more with less effort and less exhaustion. The creator of loyalty is a public benefactor.
Such loyalty is always reciprocal. The feeling which workmen entertain for their employer is usually a reflection of his attitude towards them. Fair wages, reasonable hours, working quarters and conditions of average comfort and healthfulness, and a measure of protection against accident are now no more than primary requirements in a factory or store. Without them labor of the better, more energetic types cannot be secured in the first place or held for any length of time. And the employer who expects, in return for these, any more than the average of uninspired service is sure to be disappointed.
If he treats his men like machines, looks at them merely as cogs in the mechanism of his affairs, they will function like machines or find other places. If he wishes to stir the larger, latent powers of their brains and bodies, thereby increasing their efficiency as thinkers and workers, he must recognize them as men and individuals and give in some measure what he asks. He must identify them with the business, and make them feel that they have a stake in its success and that the organization has an interest in the welfare of its men. The boss to whom his employees turn in any serious perplexity or private difficulty for advice and aid is pretty apt to receive more than the contract minimum of effort every day and is sure of devoted service in any time of need.
The Effect of Personal Relations in creating Loyalty in a Force
It is on this personal relationship, this platform of mutual interests and helpfulness, that the success and fighting strength of many one- man houses are built. As in the contractor's dilemma already cited, it bears fruit in the fighting zeal, the keener interest, and the extra speed and effort which workers bring to bear on their individual and collective tasks. All the knowledge and skill they possess are thrown into the scale; their quickened intelligences reach out for new methods and shortcuts; when the crisis has passed, there may be a temporary reaction, but there is likely to be a permanent advance both in individual efficiency and organization spirit.
On the employer's side, this feeling is expressed in the surrender of profits to provide work in dull seasons; in the retention of aged mechanics, laborers, or clerks on the payroll after their usefulness has passed; in pensions; in a score of neighborly and friendly offices to those who are sick, injured, or in trouble. A reputation for ``taking care of his men'' has frequently been a bulwark of defense to the small manufacturer or trader assailed by a greedy larger rival.
Personality is, beyond doubt, the primitive wellspring of loyalty. Most men are capable of devotion to a worthy leader; few are ever zealots for the sake of a cause, a principle, a party, or a firm. All these are too abstract to win the affection of the average man. It is only when they become embodied in an individual, a concrete personality which stirs our human interest, that they become moving powers.
The soldiers of the Revolution fought for Washington rather than for freedom; Christians are loyal to Christ rather than to his teachings; the voter cheers his candidate and not his party; the employee is loyal to the head of the house or his immediate foreman and not to the generality known as the House. Loyalty to the individuals constituting the firm may ultimately develop into house loyalty. To attempt to create the latter sentiment, however, except by first creating it for the men higher up is to go contrary to human nature—always an unwise expenditure of energy.
Human Sympathy as a Factor in developing Loyalty in Men
In developing loyalty, human sympathy is the greatest factor. If an executive of a company is confident that his directors approve his policies, appreciate his obstacles, and are ready to back him up in any crisis, his energy and enthusiasm for the common object never flag. If department heads and foremen are assured that the manager is watching their efforts with attention and regard, approving, supporting, and sparing them wherever possible, they will anticipate orders, assume extra burdens, and fling themselves and their forces into any breach which may threaten their chief's program.
If a workman, clerk, or salesman knows that his immediate chief is interested in him personally, that he understands what service is being rendered and is anxious to forward his welfare as well as that of the house, there is no effort, inconvenience, or discomfort which he will not undertake to complete a task which the boss has undertaken. Throughout the entire organization, the sympathy and cooperation of the men above with the men below is essential for securing the highest degree of loyalty. No assumed or manufactured sympathy, however, will take the place of the genuine article.
Personal Relationship with Workers as Basis for creating Loyalty
The effectiveness of human sympathy in creating loyalty is most apparent in one-man businesses where the head of the house is in personal contact with all or many of his employees. This personal touch, however, is not necessarily limited to the small organization. Many men have employed thousands and secured it. Others have succeeded in impressing their personalities, and demonstrating their sympathy upon large forces, though their actual relations were with a few. The impression made upon these and the loyalty created in them were sufficient to permeate and influence the entire body. Potter Palmer, the elder Armour, Marshall Field, and Andrew Carnegie were among the hundreds of captains who made acquaintance with the men in the ranks the cornerstone on which they raised their trade or industrial citadels.
When the size of the organization precludes personal contact, or when conditions remove the executive to a distance, the task of maintaining touch is frequently and successfully intrusted to a lieutenant in sympathy with the chief's ideals and purposes. He may be the head of a department variously styled, —adjustments, promotion and discharge, employment, labor,—but his express function is to restore to an organization the simple but powerful human relation without which higher efficiency cannot be maintained. In factories and stores employing many women this understudy to the manager is usually a woman, who is given plenary authority in the handling of her charges, in reviewing disputes with foremen, and in finding the right position for the misplaced worker. Whether man or woman, this representative of the manager hears all grievances, reviews all discharges, reductions, and the like, and makes sure that the employee receives a little more than absolute justice.
Many successful merchants and manufacturers, however, disdain agents and intermediaries in this relation and are always accessible to every man in their organizations; holding that, since the cooperation of employees is the most important single element in business, the time given to securing it is time well spent.
Even though human sympathy may well be regarded as the most important consideration in increasing loyalty, it is not sufficient in and of itself. The most patriotic citizens are those who have, served the state. They are made loyal by the very act of service. They have assumed the responsibility of promoting the welfare of the state, and their patriotism is thereby stimulated and given concrete outlet. A paternalistic government in which the citizens had every right but no responsibility would develop beggars rather than patriots.
Similarly in a business house ideally organized to create loyalty, each employee not only feels that his rights are protected, but also feels a degree of responsibility for the success and for the good name of the house. He feels that his task or process is an essential part of the firm's activity; and hence is important and worthy of his best efforts. To cement this bond and make closer the identification of the employee with the house many firms encourage their employees to purchase stock in the company. Others have worked out profit-sharing plans by which their men share in the dividends of the good years and are given a powerful incentive to promote teamwork and the practice of the economies from which the overplus of profit is produced.
Loyalty may be developed by Education in House History and Policies
The stability of a nation depends on the patriotism of its citizens. Among methods for developing this patriotism, *education ranks as the most effective. In the public schools history is taught for the purpose of awakening the love and loyalty of the rising generations. The founders, builders, and saviors of the country, the great men of peace and war who have contributed to its advancement, are held up for admiration. From the recital of what <p 91> country and patriotism meant to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Grant, and a host of lesser heroes, the pupils come to realize what country should, and does, mean to them. They become patriotic citizens.
Grounding the New Employee in Company Traditions and Ideals
In like manner the history of any house can be used to inspire loyalty and enthusiasm among its employees. Business has not been slow to borrow the methods and ideals of education, but the writer has been unable to discover any company which makes adequate use of this principle. That this loyalty may be directed to the house as a whole, and not merely to immediate superiors, every employee should be acquainted with the purposes and policies of the company and should understand that the sympathy which he discovers in his foreman is a common characteristic of the whole organization, clear up to the president. The best way to teach this is by example— by incidents drawn from the past, or by a <p 92> review of the development of the company's policy.
To identify one's self with a winning cause, party, or leader, also, is infinitely easier than to be loyal to a loser. For this reason the study of the history of the firm may well include its trade triumphs, past and present; the remarkable or interesting uses to which its products have been put; the honor or prestige which its executives or members of the organization have attained; and the hundred other items of human interest which can be marshaled to give it house personality. All this would arouse admiration and appreciation in employees, would stir enthusiasm and a desire to contribute to future achievements, and would foster an unwillingness to leave the organization.
Some companies have begun in this direction. New employees, by way of introduction, listen to lectures, either with or without the accompaniment of pictures, which review what the house has accomplished, define its standing in the trade, analyze its products and their qualities or functions, sketch the plan and purpose of its organization, and touch upon the other points of chief human interest. Other companies put this information in booklets. Still others employ their house organs to recall and do honor to the interesting traditions of the company as well as to exploit the successful deeds and men of the moment. An organized and continuous campaign of education along this line should prove an inexpensive means of increasing loyalty and efficiency among the men. To the mind of the writer, it seems clear that the future will see pronounced advances in this particular.
Personality can be overdone, however. Workers instinctively give allegiance to strong, balanced men, but resent and combat egotism unchecked by regard for others' rights. Exploitation of the employer's or foreman's personality will do more harm than good unless attended by consideration for the personality of the employee. The service of more than one important company has been made intolerable for men of spirit and creative ability by the arrogant and dominating spirit of the management. The men who continue to sacrifice their individuality to the whim or the arbitrary rule of their superiors, in time lose their ambition and initiative; and the organization declines to a level of routine, mechanical efficiency only one remove from dry- rot.
How Efficiency and Loyalty of Workers may be Capitalized
Conservation and development of individuality in workers may be made an important factor in creating loyalty as well as in directly increasing efficiency. Great retail stores put many department heads into business for themselves, giving them space, light, buying facilities, clerks, and purchasing and advertising credit as a basis of their merchandising; then requiring a certain percentage of profit on the amount allowed them. The more successful of Marshall Field's lieutenants were taken into partnership and, as in the case of Andrew Carnegie and his ``cabinet of young geniuses,'' were given substantial shares of the wealth they helped to create.
Some industries and stores carry this practice to the point of making specialized departments entirely independent of the general buying, production, and selling organizations whenever these fall short of the service offered outside; while the principle of stock distribution or other forms of profit sharing has been adopted by so many companies that it has come to be a recognized method of promoting loyalty.
Regard for the employee's personality must be carried down in an unbroken chain through all the ranks. It may be broken at any step in the descent by an executive or foreman who has not himself learned the lesson that loyalty to the house includes loyalty to the men under him.
It is not uncommon, in some American houses, to find three generations of workers —grandfather, father, and apprentice son— rendering faithful and friendly service; or to discover a score of bosses and men who have <p 96> spent thirty or forty years—their entire productive lives—in the one organization. Where such a bond exists between employer and employees, it becomes an active, unfailing force in the development of loyalty, not only among the veterans, but also among the newest recruits for whom it realizes an illustration of what true cooperation means.
Many Examples of the Loyalty of Executives for their Men in Danger
This double loyalty—to the chief and to the organization—is not a plant of slow growth. Few mine accidents or industrial disasters occur without bringing to merited, but fleeting, fame some heroic superintendent or lesser boss who has risked his own life to save his men or preserve the company's property. The same sense of responsibility extends to every grade. Give a man the least touch of authority and he seems to take on added moral stature.
The engineer who clings to his throttle with collision imminent has his counterparts in the ``handy man'' who braves injury to slip a belt and save another workman or a costly machine, and in the elevator conductor who drives his car up and down through flames and smoke to rescue his fellows. Such efficiency and organization spirit is the result of individual growth as well as the impression of the employer's personality upon his machine.
A Disloyal Sales Manager and his Influence on his Force
On the other hand, lack of loyalty on the part of employers towards their men is almost as common as failing devotion on the part of workers. Too many assume that the mere providing of work and the payment of wages give them the right to absolute fidelity, even when they take advantage of their men. The sales manager concerned in the following incident refused to believe that his attitude towards his men had anything to do with the lack of enthusiasm and low efficiency in his force.
An experienced salesman who had lost his position because of the San Francisco fire applied to the sales manager for a position. He was informed that there were fifteen applicants for the Ohio territory, but that the place would be given to him because of his better record. The manager laid out an initial territory in one corner and ordered the salesman to work it first.
Working this territory, the salesman secured substantial orders, but refrained from ``over-selling'' any customer, gave considerable time to missionary work and to cultivating the acquaintance of buyers. His campaign was planned less for immediate results than for the future and for the effect on the larger field of the state. Having no instructions as to pushing his wider campaign, in about sixty days he asked for instructions.
In answer he was ordered home and discharged on the ground that business was dull and that he had been a loss to the house. During the sixty days he had been working on a losing commission basis with the expectation of taking his profits later. Investigation disclosed that he was but one of five salesmen to whom the Ohio territory had been assigned simultaneously. Of the five, one other also had made good and had been retained because he could be secured for less money.
This multiple try-out policy is entirely fair when the applicants know the conditions. But to lead each applicant to believe that he has been engaged subject only to his ability to make good is manifestly unjust. The facts are bound to come out sooner or later and create distrust among all employees of the house. Loyalty is strictly reciprocal. If an employee feels that he has no assurance of fair treatment, his attitude towards the firm is sure to be negative. Even the man who secures the position will recognize the firm's lack of candor and will never give his employers the full measure of cooperation which produces maximum efficiency.
The ``square deal,'' indeed, is the indispensable basis of loyalty and efficiency in an organization. The spirit as well as the letter of the bargain must be observed, else the workmen will contrive to even up matters by loafing, by slighting the work, or by a minimum production. This means a loss of possible daily earnings. On the other hand, employees never fail to recognize and in time respect the executive who holds the balance of loyalty and justice level between them and the business.
Fair wages, reasonable hours, working quarters and conditions of average comfort and healthfulness, ordinary precautions against accidents, and continuous employment are all now regarded as primary requirements and are not sufficient to create loyalty in the men. More than this must be done.
The chief executive should create such a spirit that his officers shall turn to him for help when in perplexity or difficulty. The superintendent and officers or bosses should sustain this same sympathetic relationship toward their men that the executive has toward his officers. A reputation for taking care of his men is a thing to be sought in a chief executive as well as in all under-officers.
Personal relationships should be cultivated. In some large organizations the chief executive may secure this personal touch with individuals through an agent or through a department known as the department of ``promotion and discharge,'' ``employment,'' or ``labor.'' In others, occasional meetings on a level of equality may be brought about through house picnics, entertainments, vacation camps, and so on, where employer and employee meet each other outside their usual business environment.
It is not worth while to attempt to develop loyalty to the house until there has been developed a loyalty to the personalities representing the house. Loyalty in business is in the main a reciprocal relationship. The way to begin it is for the chief to be loyal to his subordinates and to see to it that all officers are loyal to their inferiors. When loyalty from above has been secured, loyalty from the ranks may readily be developed.
The personality of the worker must be respected by the employer. ``Giving a man a chance'' to develop himself, allowing him to express his individuality, is the surest way of enlisting the interest and loyalty of a creative man.
To identify the interests of employees with the interests of the house, various plans of profit sharing, sale of stock to employees, pensions, insurance against sickness and accident, and so on, have been successfully applied by many companies.
So far as possible, responsibility for the success of the house should be assumed by all employees. In some way the workmen should feel that they are in partnership with the executives. We easily develop loyalty for the cause for which we have taken responsibility or rendered a service.
Creating Loyalty to Firm itself by Educational Campaign
A perpetual campaign of publicity should be maintained for the benefit of every man in the employ of the house. In this there should be a truthful but emphatic presentation of acts of loyalty on the part of either employers or workmen. Everything connected with the firm which has human interest should be included in this history. This educational campaign should change the loyalty to the *men in the firm into loyalty to the *firm itself. It should be an attempt to give the firm a personality, and of such a noble character that it would win the loyalty of the men. This could be accomplished at little expense and with great profit.