When I say 'Jump', you say 'How  high?'

While browsing various job offers (grin) on-line, I've found something I consider a a bit funny. Some guy was posting job offers for tech people of various levels - not as an intermediary, it was his own company. Requirements were quite clear & straightforward, but in 'expectations' section I've found a very interesting point (marked as a-must-have):

  • loyalty

Hmm, what exactly is loyalty? The definition may be a bit helpful, so let's head to Wikipedia, the one & only source of truth ;P https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalty

"Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause. Philosophers disagree on what can be an object of loyalty as some argue that loyalty is strictly interpersonal and only other human beings can be the object of loyalty. (...)"

This goes for much longer, but I'll save you all the details. Anyway, this dude's looking for employees - people he's going to pay for doing some particular piece of work within some set timeframe. And he wants them loyal.

What does he mean FFS?

Let's speculate:

  1. I can't leave when I find an offer I like more?
  2. I'm supposed to make a personal sacrifice for his company's greater good? (put company above my personal stuff)
  3. This loyalty is to whom? The company? The brand? Logo? Strategy? Board? Shareholders?
  4. The only way is the company way, so the drill is to STFU & follow the orders?

And what about the company being loyal TO ME? Is the timely paycheck the only measure of loyalty in this direction?

Yes, I know I'm exaggerating - most likely this dude didn't mean anything harmful / overzealous. Hopefully he didn't mistake loyalty with obedience... What he was (most likely) aiming for was:

  1. honesty, fairness & openness
  2. willingness to engage in company's affairs (integrity)
  3. not acting against company (like collusion with a competitor)

But am I really clinging to words? Are the points above equivalent to loyalty? I don't think so.

Simon Sinek would trash me

What's the point in bringing this whole loyalty thing up? Well, there still are some companies that try to pretend they are XXI century Zaibatsu:

  • by working for someone you OWE him (the company) something (so better don't disappoint him or ... ;P)
  • your moral obligations due to being employed are far more than what's written in the contract (start with swearing an oath of loyalty & getting company id tattooed on your arm)
  • company is like an army -> as you, ungrateful bastard are being paid & breathe company's air, you're oblige to follow the orders unconditionally
  • it's just YOU, the employee, who's responsible for creating and maintaining the emotional link and loyalty means just YOUR obligations & duties

Which IMHO is a pile of crap not really worth commenting.

On the other hand there are people (really smart people) who really believe in companies as bodies of cooperation for people who share vision, interest & willingness to achieve something together. They praise the emotional bond, high perception of personal responsibility for company's business and ... pretty much parental relations between leaders & their teams. I refer to (among others) Simon Sinek and his book (my review):

Where's the golden mean?

There's no simple, generic answer. You need to pick what seems healthy & reasonable for you personally. In my case, I find Sinek's approach going a bit too far, I wouldn't even use the 'term' loyalty (as it suggest a deep emotional bond). But I also agree that so called engagement & integrity are crucial for proper team-building & creating a high-performance (effective, not just efficient) environment.

Someone who finds himself a mercenary - just doing pieces of work for anyone who's paying ATM will always be just mercenary. He won't CARE as much as someone who's really on-board. And if he won't care, he won't CONTRIBUTE as much (and contributing more doesn't really have to mean overtime or working weekends).

Regardless of where you put your own threshold in terms of defining loyalty, I have two advices:

  1. Try to think about loyalty always in context of particular (groups of) people. Not companies, brands, products (OMG!) or anything like that (virtual ideas or physical items).

  2. I believe that loyalty can't be unconditionally required. People who form the organization (not just the leadership, but them as well) have to contribute to building a proper culture: of safety, honesty, fairness & substantive collaboration.

Main pic: "Ben-Hur" 1959, MGM