“Never push a loyal person to the point where they no longer give a damn.”

Once shared, I was amazed to see how ‘viral’ the quoted statement went on both LinkedIn and Facebook and the number of “Likes” increases by the minute!

Loyalty …. What is loyalty?

Wikipedia describes: Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause. (Philosophers disagree as to what things one can be loyal to. Some, argue that one can be loyal to a broad range of things, while others argue that it is only possible for loyalty to be to another person and that it is strictly interpersonal.)

My aim is to elaborate on the meaning of ‘Loyalty’ in a business setting.

Dr. David G. Javitch comes with an interesting introduction:

“In today’s business world, loyalty is a very powerful concept. […] In its most basic sense, it’s the relationship between an employer and an employee – an abstract, often unwritten contract in which the employer agrees to provide the materials and resources the employee needs to get the job done, matched by the employee’s agreement to work at an optimal level to fulfill the goals of the company. Loyalty is really the glue that ties an employee to their job, and that tie is a function of the respect and allegiance the entrepreneur [n.b. the company] attempts to develop in their employees. When it comes right down to it, loyalty is a key reason many employees remain on their job.”

In some countries ‘loyalty’ is regulated by law! The law requires an employee to be loyal towards his employer, meaning than an employee must be honest with his employer, use good judgment in his role, put the interests of his employer above his own, and protect confidential information.

I don’t want to elaborate on ‘loyalty’ as a legislative must, nor do I feel the need of philosophically arguing on the meaning of the term.

My intention is to briefly describe ‘loyalty’ as I have sensed it when interviewing both people managers and employees.

  • People are seldom loyal to an employer for the company’s name / brand as such, they are rather loyal to their direct manager and to their colleagues; I have often seen people refusing to change their job out of ‘loyalty’ reasons, despite – for example – obvious personal financial difficulties or other shortages of the job as such;
  • Loyalty derives from working with a manager one can look up to, being coached and feeling empowered & respected by;
  • Loyalty comes forth when an employee feels high satisfaction in working with each and every of his team members, when he feels ‘at home’ in his team;
  • Loyalty emerges when an employee simply loves his job and the people he works with;
  • Loyalty, given above described situations, surpasses by far any other motivation type – financial enhancement, hierarchical growth opportunities, company name / brand, etc.

I have seen so very many people rejecting obvious professional opportunities out of loyalty towards current employer. And I loved and respected their judgment and reasoning!

Unfortunately I have also seen people betrayed in their utmost vulnerability: their loyalty!

People do suffer when their incomes are endangered, when the business environment changes to the worse, when the targets become unachievable, but there is nothing that can make them suffer more than the loyalty damage …. When they no longer feel ‘at home’, when their manager or majority team-members change, when their input is no longer appreciated, when their opinion is simply dismissed.

One can accept a salary decrease, a tough business situation, an increased business pressure, but never get over the disappointment of a loyalty breach.

As strange as it may sound and there is no disrespect whatsoever in my thoughts (on the contrary!) … a loyal employee is very much a dog alike!

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things – a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.”

John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog

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