Loyalty in the Eyes of Management


Just recently my company had a planning session where one of the activities is a presentation by each employee of their strengths and weaknesses relating to their work responsibilities. I found it interesting that almost all of them cited honesty as one of their strengths but only one of them wrote loyalty.
While honesty is a prerequisite of company loyalty it is just a minimum requirement. After all, every employee is expected to be honest or else be subject to disciplinary action. Honesty is just one, although, critical component of loyalty. Besides this, honesty motivated by malice is also evil. As the great poet William Blake said in his immortal poem “Auguries of Innocence” – “A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.”
Before we go deeper into this topic, let us exclude those situations where there is a conflict between your loyalty to your direct boss and loyalty to your company. This is a very difficult situation that deserves another article.
How does management discern those who are truly loyal from those who are just sucking up? Unfortunately this is extremely difficult as there are many good actors. Nevertheless I will provide some pointers that, hopefully, will guide both managers and subordinates who are sincere in their intentions:
Length of service. This is one factor that cannot be faked and so is the most frequently considered. Unfortunately, there are some senior employees who see this as a license to be more demanding regardless of productivity or market situation. Current trends give bigger weight to merit in deciding compensation.
Honesty in small things. Some think that pilfering ball pens or doing personal tasks on company time and equipment should have no consequence. However, most managers believe that if you cannot be trusted in small things then all the more cannot be trusted in bigger matters.
Avoidance of suspicion. Make sure to take measures to avoid situations that may cause doubt as to your honesty or good intention. It may not be recorded in your official file due to lack of evidence but management is not likely to forget probable dishonesty. Do not volunteer for sensitive tasks that may be interpreted as a way to reap kickbacks. Be absolutely sure you are getting the best deals if you are in charge of purchasing. Reject gifts by suppliers. Avoid contact with anyone who may be competitors or have ill designs on the company. Play it safe, avoid anything that you may not be interpreted well by your manager even if you think it is ok.
More loyalty to management than peers. This is the most difficult thing to accomplish. Peer pressure is hard to resist. At times, there are unwritten rules of conduct limiting productivity so that no one will be pressured to perform above the norm. Also, people who are perceived to be too close to their boss are often ostracized. You may have to choose between the friendship of your co-workers or a fast track career.
High productivity. It may seem unbelievable to those who have experienced less competent co-workers get promoted over them, but your work output usually does count for a lot. Even if you lose out in the office politics department, you are unlikely to be terminated. It just isn’t possible for a company to survive without anyone doing the work!
Sacrifices made. There are many ways a sacrifice is made. One of these is how much personal time have you foregone to meet the needs of the company? This may not be right if overdone, but the person who is willing to sacrifice personal time for a company need has an edge in loyalty points.
Loyalty is one of the most important traits sought by management. In fact, all your other efforts may be worthless if management believes you cannot be trusted. Extreme care must be taken to preserve and nurture management’s belief in your loyalty. Know by heart and practice well what loyalty is in the eyes of management.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.
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