When the men are punished before their loyalty is secured, they will be rebellious and disobedient. If disobedient and rebellious, it is difficult to deploy them. When the loyalty of the men is secured, but punishments are not enforced, such troops cannot be used either. Thus, the general must be able to instruct his troops with civility and humanity and unite them with rigorous training and discipline so as to secure victories in battles. When orders are regularly enforce and used to train the soldiers, they will be obedient. When orders are not regularly enforced nor used to train the soldiers, they will not be obedient. When orders are regularly enforced, it is because of the mutual trust and confidence between the commander and his men. – Sun Tzu Art of War Chapter 9

Sun Tzu mentioned that loyalty has to be first secured then punishment can be enforced so that these troops can be used in the battle. And to do these, you have to instruct your troops with civility and humanity and unite them with rigorous training and discipline. Only then can these troops be used for battle.


Securing Loyalty before Implementing Punishment

We can apply this directly to the company by treating your employees the way Sun Tzu advocated. Most of the people would think that salary is the way to attract the best talents but that is not the case as shown by many surveys done by human resource management companies. A good physical and human environment in the company can ‘pay’ talents more and such ‘renumeration’ package is not easily duplicable by rival companies.

How to secure the loyalty of your employees? One sentence would sufficed to explain all the methods that can be used. Treat your employees how you want other people to treat you if you are the employee. If you want people to be forgiving towards your minor mistakes, do the same to your employees. You want your employer to give you less overtime so that you can spend time with your family, the same thing applies. Put yourself in your employees’ shoe. Treat them well and you can reap intangible benefits. Know that you care about their needs and also their family. In this way, I am sure you would be able to secure the loyalty of your employees.

Enforcing Orders Regularly

You have to make sure your orders are regularly enforced in your company, for it to function well. And to make sure it is enforced, you must instill mutual trust and confidence in your employees that they would benefit greatly if they followed your orders. As mentioned in Chapter 1 of Sun Tzu Art of War, you must administer your rewards and punishment strictly and fairly, increasing the confidence of employee that they would be rewarded if they do well. Let your employees know that you have the capabilities to lead. As mentioned by John C. Maxwell author of 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the Law of Buy-In, you must let your employees be able to believe in your capabilities, only then can you start putting forward your vision for the company.

So as you can see, it is very important that you are able to secure the loyalty of your employees, and from there build up the mutual trust and only then can they be ‘used’ effectively in your company.

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