Company, manager and team loyalty are misunderstood

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Aug 13

I am pretty blunt when it comes to loyalty to companies. I don’t think anyone should have any loyalty to a company because companies don’t run companies, people run companies. So the loyalty shouldn’t be to Enron, or Washington Mutual, or any other company; we need to decide our loyalties to the people there.

Has workplace loyalty gone to the dogs?

Anita Bruzzese is one of my favorite writers because she reports well and asks great questions. When she writes, I read; simple as that. In one of her latest Gannet columns and web site entries, she asks “Has Workplace Loyalty Gone to The Dogs?” The answer, of course, is yes, it has. The article has resulted in this great conversation in the comments. My contention, of course, is that no one should have loyalty to a company, only to the people in the company.

The article’s point is that we need to have company loyalty because it hurts us as well as the company:

If you’re miserable at work these days, don’t blame your employer. Blame your lack of loyalty.

“After all these layoffs, people like to say that they’re loyal to themselves, not an employer,” says Timothy Keiningham. “But the problem with that is that it’s not a virtue to be loyal to yourself.”

Keiningham, a loyalty guru, says that unless you have a sense of loyalty to the people you work with and what you’re doing then you are likely to be unhappy, no matter how much you’re getting paid.

I noted in the comments that what is described here is a contradiction. We’re supposed to have loyalty to the company, but Keiningham describes, instead, needing loyalty to the people you work with.

And here the great questions start

Anita asked if I could be loyal to a manager who laid me off. My answer: yes, it has happened to me. Could I be loyal to teammates left behind at a company that laid me off? My answer: yes, I’ve done it.

But, I can’t be loyal to a company or a management team that drives a company into the ground, especially when taking millions of dollars of compensation while they are doing it. I’m going to evaluate each person I work with and, as in any social situation, determine my loyalty to that person.

Here’s the final question

Between pundits, I think, it’s relatively easy to understand that there are different types of loyalties out there. There is loyalty to the company, a management team, a manager, your team and to the specific people you work with.

But given all the talk about lost loyalty, Anita asks me, “I know that a company/manager/people are different beasts, but I’m not sure a lot of people see that difference, do you?”

And I don’t know the answer to that one. I need some help from you:

I know that loyalty to a company/manager/people are different beasts, but I’m not sure a lot of people see that difference, do you?


About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.