Is blind loyalty limiting your potential for success? In an article published today at Inc.com, John Brandon suggests that we might be wise to be less loyal. Specifically, he mentions re-evaluating our business relationships and friendships to determine whether there is appropriate loyalty.
I think that he makes some good points. When I worked at the ill-fated Nortel Networks, I saw employees being laid off who had devoted twenty or more years of their lives to the company. They were literally in tears. They could not comprehend how the company they had been so loyal to could treat them so. Late in their careers, many of them felt unemployable and told me that their loyalty had cost them dearly.
I remembered this lesson. Businesses, ultimately, have to make decisions that meet their needs and those of their shareholders. That is good business. They are not loyal to their employees and maybe they shouldn’t be. However, employees should use the same yardstick and ensure that they do not spend years of their lives at a company that is not, ultimately, fulfilling their needs.
The one thing I find unfortunate, though, is that there is this need to take a step back and coldly evaluate our loyalty to people, employers, employees, and brands. It is necessary mainly because loyalty is not universal. One person is getting a bad deal when loyalty is one-sided.
What I would like to see in both corporations and individuals is an enlightened self-interest. Blind loyalty is unhealthy because it might cause a corporation to, for example, retain an unproductive employee.
However, I think after someone is a successful employee with a company for over 20 years, it is very cold and perhaps cruel to just let that person go when times get a little tough. Ultimately, however, employees need to make decisions based on THEIR enlightened self-interest because corporations have to be profitable in order to survive and sometimes that can mean making decisions that seem callous.
So, is loyalty a fault? I don’t think it is. However, we must be cautious to whom we remain loyal.