8 Ways to Build Team Loyalty Without Offering More Money

Red EscalatorObviously money is important.

You’ve probably heard, though, that once you make about $75,000 per year in the US, happiness kind of plateaus.

Once you reach a comfortable level with money, other elements of work become more important. Or at the very least your focus starts to shift a little.

As a leader of a team, it’s important to consider the way money affects the team as well as other important elements.

Part of the challenge is keeping a successful team together. That requires loyalty. And in many instances, it requires more than money.

Here are a few tips for keeping a great team together for as long as possible…with more than money…

1. Kindness & Respect

Kindness and respect. If you’ve ever had a strong relationship with someone, these are two major reasons. If you’re in a marriage, these are often discussed as top priorities for long-term success. Friendship is the same.

Leading a team at work is no different. You have relationships with each of the people on your team. They have relationships with each other. As the leader, it’s your job to foster the type of culture that values kindness. You have to implement it yourself. You have to practice it and lead by example.

When you slip up, you have to catch it and then work to build back the trust. When you see others faltering, you have to decide if they need to be removed from the team and held accountable for their actions.

Kindness is different from enabling. But more on that in a bit…

2. Truth

People want the truth. Nobody wants to have a boss that pretends things are going extremely well only to learn a couple months later that they are being let go.

People want the truth.

It’s the same in relationships. It’s often not the negative situation that causes the biggest issues. It’s usually the lying and coverup that makes people most upset.

Be as honest as possible with your team. Not too negative. Not too positive. Aim for a balance of both. There will be times when it skews one way or the other. Follow the ebbs and flows as much as you can.

When you’re truthful with people about the company and about their own performance, they can trust your information and are more willing to follow your lead.

3. Team Success for Individual Motivation

Everybody has individual motivation. It’s human nature. It’s probably essential for survival. It’s normal to think of yourself and your immediate family. In fact, it’s probably better if we thought¬†more about ourselves than about others.

When it comes to success as a team, though, it’s important to understand the individual motivations of those on the team. Usually, you can find a way to get everybody working toward the same goal while also satisfying their individual motivations.

One person may be motivated by job security. Another by ambition for promotion. Another by money. Each of these people can find success if the team does well. You just have to put them in the right positions so that the work they’re doing satisfies their own goals and the goal for the overall team.

4. Listening

It turns out that being listened to and understood is one of the key elements to happiness in life. Your employees want to feel this way. They want to know that you hear them and understand them. Most of the time they want to help provide feedback.

It’s easy, as the boss, to feel that you’re too busy to listen to everybody. But the most successful bosses often schedule time to listen to employees. They also make time to explain when suggestions are good and when they are not applicable.

This might seem unimportant in many situations, but for the health of the team and its members it’s very important.

5. Leader by Doing Small Things

Your team pays attention to all the little things you do. Especially the little things.

If they see you, for example, toss a napkin and miss the trash can and walk out of the break room, they’re going to be taking mental notes.

That’s not very nice.

If they can’t even pick up their trash, what else don’t they care about…

If you feel that your team is struggling, one of the first things to do is to audit yourself. Your routine. Your manners. The little things you do around the office that might be negatively influencing the team.

6. Fairness

Every person on a team has a view of what’s fair. Generally, that doesn’t mean treating everybody the same. People are different. Different skills. Different attitudes. Different value to the team.

It’s the leader’s job to understand this balance as much as possible. To not play favorites in the sense that the team becomes cronyism. But in the sense that the leader wants the team to do as well as possible and that accountability is important.

If an employee, for example, has a specific job and they keep failing at it, it’s the leader’s job not to enable the behavior by seeming “kind”. It’s the leader’s job to figure out why the issue is happening and solve it. As soon as possible.

It really comes down to the “why” of decision making. If the team understands the “why”, things are typically viewed as being fair across the board.

7. Growth Opportunities

People generally want to grow. The tricky thing is that doesn’t necessarily mean with promotions or even with more money. Some people want promotions. Some people want more money.

Other people want to grow in other ways. They want opportunities to learn more. Maybe it’s to learn more positions within the company. Maybe it’s more opportunity to go deeper about their current position.

Provide opportunities for each employee to grow in the way that’s most important to them. Offer cross-training. Offer time for self-learning. Try to take the growth mindset into the team setting.

8. Challenges (challenge the team continuously)

One of the conundrums of being a leader on a team is continuously challenging the team to reach new heights. It’s weird, but people and teams are really good at achieving things when they are focused on the same goal.

Some challenges may repeat. Other challenges may be new or things that were overlooked in recent history.

It’s the leader’s job to always be thinking about ways to challenge the team. Both short and long-term. Both for individuals and for the team as a whole.


Money is important. There is no getting around that. But most people want more than money when they are working. They want a balance of the items mentioned here. It’s not easy to achieve these things. But some of the most successful companies and organizations have had leaders that were able to focus their efforts in these areas and bring out loyalty from their team members.

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