4 reasons to help the company – but your company loyalty sucks

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Feb 25

One of the things that drives me crazy is Corporate Speak. It drives me crazy because it’s never specific enough to relate to our jobs and it is always an attempt to persuade employees that what the company is doing is great and deserves employee loyalty.

All of the push for employee engagement, while rightfully trying to give us work that is interesting and, well, engaging, usually has the other loyalty association with it. Be engaged in the work; be loyal to the company.

I read lots of HR blogs and one of the consistent themes is to get employees to be loyal to the company. It makes sense from a Corporate viewpoint: loyal employees will stay longer, defend the company, and presumably produce more work.

But, it’s the wrong position to take for an employee.

I deal with way too many people who hang on to their company like it was a marriage in need of deep counseling to save it. When the truth of the matter is this: they should find another job that fits their work profile and be done with all the angst of their current company employment. Before it destroys their career and their family finances. If not their family.

Besides, the company, regardless of the Corporate Speak and engagement attempts, is just not that into you. Not the company’s fault. The company’s job is to enable their profits to shareholders and to ensure the company survives. Not you surviving and thriving. The company.

That’s why you owe your company your work — but not your loyalty.

You can be laid off in a New York minute

Even though the economy is producing a lot more jobs, it doesn’t mean people aren’t getting laid off like there was no tomorrow. Outside of the weekly employment claims numbers, all of us know someone who just got laid off.

I do: a company decided to not do the type of remodeling needed to remodel my kitchen so they immediately stopped signing those types of remodeling contracts. And laid off the sales people selling that type of remodel. No notice of the change in approach. No notice for the layoff. No severance either.

That’s what loyalty to a company gives you – nothing.

You can be reorged into oblivion through changes in top management

This personally happened to me: having a position, producing results, great reviews. Oh, and great bonuses by the way.

Then the reorganization comes along. Same position. Same people. Same results. Now — and my new manager came into my office and flat out told me this, so it’s not some made up whatever — the new Director “doesn’t believe I deliver anything to the organization.”

That belief was backed up: three months later, I was laid off along with nine of my twelve people in my group. And this was a group of escalated support people for the help desk for the company. Did the first level group solve any more problems? No, it was just a Director making a mark.

(No worries, the company went bankrupt about five months later and everyone lost their jobs…).

New management? Reason to really look at what is changing with the organization.

Your company can get bought out

I’m now on my third buyout of my career — some other company buys the one I work for. I’m commuting to work one morning last November and my wife, Kate, calls me and tells me that my company was just bought by a different one. Ended up being true. Wall Street always hears about these things (it’s a rule; not the company’s fault) before employees do.

And while I need to write about the different types of buyouts at some point, with a buyout, the probability of your position being impacted (especially if you are the purchased company) is significantly higher than it was two minutes before the buyout.

The site where you worked can get shut down

Companies shut down sites all the time. Shift work to a different location. Consolidate locations and your location is the one that goes.

It’s not about you — it’s about where the company management thinks they can save dollars, increase productivity and increase profits.

See how well loyalty works out?

The real short point here is this: a company will do whatever the management thinks is the right thing to do regardless of the impact to an employee. Full stop.

Sure, they will say in their communications it’s the best for the company, best long term, offers great opportunities for the company and all that good stuff. All that may very well be true. But, really, seriously, it’s not about your best interests. Even if the management says it is.

What a company does is for it’s own self-interest.

And it’s high time employees did what was in their self-interest instead of the company’s self-interest.

Seriously, we do owe companies our work. Our job is to help the company reach their business goals through the work we do.

But it’s not the company’s job to help us reach our career and personal goals. That’s our job. To tie that to loyalty for the company — while it may be a great company to work for — is just asking for a disaster in the making.

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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.

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