Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Company Loyalty

This week's link roundup from LinkedIn brought this interesting article, on the qualities of a "Truly Loyal Employee". It's well-stated, and I largely agree with it -- the main thrust is that the sort of "loyal" you want isn't a yes-man, it's someone who is working sincerely and hard to make the company successful.

That said, something's bothering me about it, and I think it's the word "loyalty". It may be partly my own anti-authoritarian reflexes, and it may be because the word is so often misused, but the word makes me twitch in this context. Many folks take "loyalty" as binary -- you're either loyal or disloyal (that is, a traitor), when the reality is a very complex spectrum.

So I prefer to think of it in terms of *partnership*. Employees who think of themselves as "loyal" often do so out of fear, and that's exactly wrong. I want employees who feel like they are, in a real sense, equal partners with the company. That leads to folks who aren't uncritically loyal, won't put up with abuse, and also won't put up with *stupid*. The company has to prove itself to employees-as-partners, on an ongoing basis, every bit as much as the employees have to prove themselves to the employer. That provides a nice balance against a lot of the negative internal forces that lead companies to gradually become dumber. (Fear of change, personal arrogance, the SNAFU Principle, and so on.)

Of course, that's a nice ideal, but not trivial to realize. Institutionalizing courage is tricky stuff, and balancing it against actually making decisions moreso. I suppose that it starts with establishing a culture of respect and open-mindedness at all levels.

Hmm -- thoughts for me to remember. It'll be a long time before we get to the point of actually hiring anybody, but I need to remember this basic principle...

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