This item has come about following reading this item in qaforums http://www.qaforums.com/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=46;t=002204;p=3 where there was a brief exchange between Jim Hazen and myself on the subject of loyalty. Loyalty is important to me, it is important as I believe that loyalty is an important part of working life. I accept that it is important to me and some people do not consider it to be as important and that is fine, we all have different things that are important to us.
Firstly, here is a definition of loyalty: “Loyalty, as a general term, signifies a person’s devotion or sentiment of attachment to a particular object, which may be another person or group of persons, an ideal, a duty, or a cause. It expresses itself in both thought and action and strives for the identification of the interests of the loyal person with those of the object”
I get annoyed with people who expect loyalty. You find it amongst some managers who believe that because they have some title that they not only deserve loyalty, it is their right to be given loyalty. You also find it amongst the “experts” who believe that no-one can tell them anything. This arrogance annoys me and I am much less likely to be loyal. That is my personal reaction which other people may or may not consider to be a good reaction!
What everyone should remember is that loyalty is a two way street; I am only loyal to someone who is loyal to me. You have to earn loyalty from your peers, your managers and from your team, you are never given it. You can’t demand loyalty, it is always earned.
So, people are loyal to other people and to companies. Companies are loyal to their staff and other companies. The level of that loyalty varies widely depending on a number of factors, which I am going to discuss further.
What makes someone loyal to a person or a company is dependent on the person themselves, what “pushes their button”. Some people are loyal because they have a nice office/cube/desk, some because they have good perks, some because they are paid well. This is what I call doggie loyalty. I have a dog, he is a 12 year old cross-breed terrier and he is incredibly loyal. He would do anything for me, but if I stopped feeding him, how long would that loyalty last? Not long. Human beings are not dogs, however, if you stop feeding them what they want (money, benefits, etc.) their loyalty will stop. Some people will not be loyal even if you do feed them, these people require more. They require someone or something to give them a purpose in life, like success, acknowledgement, position, which could be called social loyalty. If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs http://www.businessballs.com/maslow.htm, then you can see what it is that breeds loyalty above the doggie loyalty, or level 1 and 2 in Maslow’s hierarchy.
If you look around the people who work with you, what level of loyalty do they display? Is it doggie loyalty, or is it social loyalty? What level of loyalty do you display?
It is my experience that there are a number of people who only have doggie loyalty to a company, these are the people who will change company at the drop of a hat if they are offered more money elsewhere, contractors are more likely to show this type of loyalty although some permanent staff also fall into this category.
If you show a certain level of loyalty to a company or person, that is the level of loyalty you should expect to receive. If you only display doggie loyalty, then why should you expect to be given social loyalty? If you display social loyalty and only receive doggie loyalty (or less), then you are either entitled to be disgruntled or you should re-evaluate the level of loyalty you are prepared to give.
I posit that (although I know of no study to back this up) if you show loyalty to your company, they will show loyalty to you. A company may display doggie loyalty, i.e. it is only interested in the profits it can make. Some are more altruistic and care about their employees. A doggie company will not care how loyal you are, but a more employee friendly company will reward loyalty with loyalty – again, you have to earn it by your display of loyalty.
If you are manager or team leader, you should want to inspire loyalty in your team(s). Loyal team members work more effectively. Loyalty means that you will get more out of them, they are more willing to do extra if asked of them. Determine what it is that gets you that loyalty in every individual and do what you can to give it to that individual. I strive first for personal loyalty as I believe that loyalty to me is the first step in gaining loyalty to the company. I don’t always succeed, some people will never be as loyal as I would like, but often I do succeed.
Something to beware of, as a manager, don’t confuse friendship with loyalty. It is very difficult (for me, at least) for a manager to be a friend and a manager of anyone who is working in your team.
So, to sum up, loyalty breeds loyalty and if you display it, you will often receive it. If you display doggie loyalty, then you should only expect to receive doggie loyalty.