$&#% Loyalty

[Editor’s Note: Many of our Women of HR writers also maintain their own blogs.  Please enjoy this post from Kimberly Patterson, originally posted on Unconventional HR.]

 

When I hear folks speak about how proud they are to be a loyal employee I want to cringe.  Be loyal to yourself, your partner, close friends, family and your pet.  Do you think your loyalty will be reciprocated when your company is facing tough times and has to review numbers and headcount for a RIF?

It’s not realistic for employees to be loyal to companies or for companies to be loyal to employees.  And it’s not a bad thing — here’s why…

If you’re an employee and believe that your loyalty will be remembered by your employer when it’s time for the tough decisions, my question to you is, “why on earth would you place your career decisions entirely in the hands of someone else?”  Not only will working at one place for too long make you stale, you’re giving up the control of managing your own career.  What if your manager retires, transfers or gets a new gig outside of the company?  So much for all of those years of loyalty.  Do you think your manager is going to present a succession plan for you on their way out the door?  Avoid being naive and recognize the excess of “dog eat dog” attitudes in Corporate America.

I’ve seen business owners in smaller organizations be loyal to employees by making sure they receive salary increases and bonuses every year — for basically showing up for work.  That’s okay, only to a point.  Is it because companies don’t want to go through the pain of hiring new talent?  Can business owners and leaders honestly say that this employee who has been working for them for the last 15 years is continually growing and that growing is positively impacting their business?  Or does having an employee come in on time, day after day, equal loyalty?  For many business owners it does.  And good for them.  Or is it?  I believe that business owners are doing themselves, their employees and their company a disservice by not embracing fresh eyes and new talent.

Here’s how employees can be considered loyal:

  • Do your job and do it well — that’s being loyal to yourself.
  • Take pride in your work.
  • Never stop learning and advancing in your field.
  • Don’t take risks at work to prove your loyalty to anyone for any reason — it may come back to bite you.
  • Never believe someone who says, “I’ll take you with me.”  That’s just stupid.

Remember that as quickly as decisions are made in organizations is just as quickly as those decisions can change.  You should always have your Plan B tucked away in your back pocket because no one else will.

Here’s how companies and managers can be loyal: 

  • Don’t stifle employees. Let them grow and encourage them to seek out new opportunities.
  • Keeping employees under your thumb is comfortable but puts laziness over progress.

Once you bring fresh eyes and new talent to your business, you’ll wonder how you ever got along doing the same old thing day after day.

Bring it.

 

Kimberly Patterson is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kimberly_patt, or at kim@unconventionalhr.com.

About the Author

Kimberly Patterson

Kimberly Patterson is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kimberly_patt, or at kim@unconventionalhr.com.

10 Comments

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Cara Carroll

I agree with Kimberly on this post. But good for Katie that she has been able to stay happy in her workplace. I too work for a small business but my “loyalty” has not gotten me much in terms of growth opportunities, happiness, or mutual respect. With small businesses it is hard not to make very personal connections with your staff and management. However, this can sometimes, in my opinion, lead to and unhealthy work situation as it has in my case. I have learned from this and will not make this mistake again.

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Kimberly Patterson

Cara, I’m sorry to hear about your experience but that’s why they call it experience. We learn a lot from them, right? Hopefully you’ll get closer to a much better environment and overall experience going forward. 🙂

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michaelC

This was definitely the case 10 years ago but I think large companies are rediscovering loyalty, only it is now called “engagement”.

Smart companies are taking notice of staff surveys where results usually show good staff are expecting something back in terms of meaningful goals, family friendly employment policies, good communication and a productive culture that is good to come to work for. In return, they will work back late unpaid, share their ideas, go the extra yards with customers/ clients,and work better with more care.

Companies who get this right have low turnover, Sounds like loyalty to me. Small companies that survive know this instinctively and have mutual unwritten covenants in place.

Replace engagement with loyalty and you have much the same thing, IMHO.

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Kimberly Patterson

Hmmm… not sure we’re on the same page. Engagement is defined by the satisfaction level at which employees are happy with the quality of their work, and the relationship with their manager and coworkers. Overall engagement makes up multiple “happiness” variables at work and basically positive employee engagement indicates the level of happiness an employee has which means they’re engaged in their work and with their company.

Positive engagement can then lead to a level of loyalty but I’m not so sure these terms are one and the same.

As an aside I don’t believe in surveys – they don’t work because, simply put – people lie. Employees will never believe that surveys are anonymous so they won’t tell the truth. I know that because I did a survey and asked employees if they believed that (1) surveys were anonymous and (2) would they be totally honest if asked to complete one. Over 65% of the employees answered “no” to both.

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Katie

I disagree. My boss is a small business owner who has done SO MUCH for me, from letting me work a 100% flex time telecommuting schedule to bringing my entire family homemade dinners when my grandfather died. And I don’t doubt for a second that he would never terminate me unless the company closed or I committed a felony or something. He’s a great human being and he will ALWAYS have my loyalty.

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