I’ve talked about it before, but LOYALTY is a biggie.
One of the first questions I ask a possible employee is why they want to leave their current company. The truth is, I most likely have already found out the answer. I like networking, and I love the idea that friends will tell other friends things that they might not tell a stranger asking. I can’t tell you how many people will tell me that they want to leave because they hate their jobs.
They may not use those words, but since I have shared, and therefore, can understand the sentiment, I know what they are saying. But my understanding doesn’t extend so far as to mandate that I employ the griper. In fact, I rarely do.
Loyalty to your company is important while you are working there, but it is crucial when you are trying to get out. Most industries talk to each other within their industry. You might be working for someone’s mentor, and while by law they can’t give you a bad professional reference, sometimes friends understand what is unsaid as clearly as what is said.
That’s an obvious one, but what if you are trying to leave your department to work in another department in the same company? You have heard how the managers of each department don’t get along very well, and how they are constantly at each other’s throat. This can be particularly dangerous. Your instinct will be to say whatever necessary in order to ingratiate yourself with the new manager. You should do your best to avoid this instinct if you like your job, or the concept of being employed. Even if what you have heard is true, and if the managers really hate each other so much, there is the (strong) possibility that your off-hand comment about your current boss will be used as a slap to the face by the new manager. You also may not get the job, and your reputation will become that of the whiner that is gunning for your boss’s job.
Even though I’ve never particularly wanted my supervisors’ jobs, I’ve been accused more times than I can count that I was working to sabotage their department because I wanted them to fail. Because I have always been vocal about the shortcomings of anybody in a company (myself included!), people have taken the logical leap to say that I have no loyalty. I know this happens, and I’ve even become very good at telling WHEN it is happening. The problem here is, reality is infinitely less important than perception. If the perception is that I have no loyalty, then it doesn’t matter that I am the most loyal of employees in reality.
There’s another aspect of loyalty that is important to becoming successful. You are only an employee for about 1/3 of a day. The rest of the day, you are just a person. You have values, goals, and morals. So, what do you do when your job asks you to break loyalty with your home life? The answer depends on what is important to you. In most cases, I have always chosen that which was important to Wil, the guy over Wil, the employee. I have often found that betraying loyalty to myself never worked out well. In the short term, I might find small successes, but in the long term, I wind up resenting myself for the betrayal, as well as the company for allowing it to happen.
Another aspect of loyalty is that of blind loyalty. If you are reading this, I assume you have a little more intelligence than most people your age. You have proactively decided to take control of your destiny and your future. That being said, I expect you to think critically at all times. There is nothing disloyal about honest questions to the status quo. I read somewhere that without people questioning the status quo, we would still be living in caves. Personally, I welcome questions, as long as they are asked in the spirit of doing better. When they are just complaints with a raised inflection at the end, I get weary, very quickly.
When the question of loyalty comes up, most people stumble over themselves to prove their loyalty. You should never have to prove your loyalty to any employer. Sadly, you will be called to do so many times in your career. When proving loyalty, you should use actions. Like the used car salesman who claims he’s honest, when you have to shout about your loyalty, you make me think you are not loyal, or that you could easily be swayed to shift loyalties.