career layoffs

Loyalty is still dead (Part II)

Thursday, February 25, 2016 Peter A. James

It’s crazy! The business world is changing right before our very eyes. Capitalism is shifting a bit too. Working for an organization for more than 5 years has lost its luster; unless of course, that organization has embraced the future. But most have not.

Companies as we know them are changing too. The large ones realize that employees do not want the same thing that they wanted 20 years ago. Many events have led up to this current environment: 9/11, the 2008 recession, social media, smartphones, information. And these are just to name a few. 

As mentioned before, don’t get upset with organizations or corporations for not being loyal, don’t get mad about the layoffs, the terminations or displacements. The fact of the matter is, that if most of us were in those same leadership positions, we would do the exact same thing - especially if we were under all that pressure from stockholders, boards of directors and/or the C-Suite. As we close out this quick series, here are a few more things to think about relative to this loyalty discussion.

The Corporate Leader

You will continue to be put under enormous pressure to produce near impossible results. You will be asked to do more with less. You will be expected to shift culture, as well. And probably, all in the same breath. Let attrition allow you to become a lean and nimble machine. Your HR director can spearhead this. Look to understand how society’s definition of loyalty has shifted, no matter if this is the employee, the customer, or other stakeholder. Lastly, the “customer is always right” philosophy is not the best mindset. Instead, focus on taking care of your people who in turn will take care of your customers. Your employees will realize that taking care of your customers (and other employees) is the best road to job security.

And just in case you did not know it, downsizing in the form of layoffs has historically had an adverse effect on the morale and commitment of surviving employees. Therefore, do your best to exhaust all avenues of approach prior to making this difficult decision. Even consider these steps noted by the Harvard Business Review:

  • Watch out for creeping structural complexity
  • Phase out (certain) products and services
  • Manage the balance between today’s revenues and tomorrow’s opportunities

The Employee (Again)

There is no such thing as job security. Therefore, know your company well. And how it is traversing our society and the current business culture. If you don't read the writing on the wall, you will get caught off guard by something like this:

How not to conduct a layoff

Understand that companies are in business to ultimately make money. There are a few whose focus is set genuinely on giving back to society, employees and their customers. Unfortunately, the vast majority are just figuring out ways to stay on top.

The Customer

A company’s ultimate goal is to provide the best service for you in an effort to get you to share your wallet with them. Understand this well and realize that many do not deserve any of your resources. A clear example of whom you should be disloyal to are the big-box cable TV providers who would rather forego providing flat rates in lieu of 6-12 months of a promotion. And we all know what happens after the promotion expires. Great customer service - not at all, but we need our cable, right?

Parting Notes

As an individual, your loyalty should not be to everyone. Webster defines it as being faithful or showing constant support for someone or something. Whether or not this should extend to your workplace is ultimately a personal decision. Just remember how it feels (or felt) when this trust is (or was) broken. And the position it put you in relative to your career and focus. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather place my loyalty in a cause or organization that I know has its priorities in order. What is this place for you?

Peter A. James: Coach, Accountability Partner (AP), Professor | | @drpaj

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