There are limits to workplace loyalty

Friday, April 21, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 16

Loyalty is an important quality. It’s what helps bind friendships and loved ones. It’s what holds teams together. But – dare I say it – there are limits to loyalty.

Many of us were taught to be loyal to our companies. To some degree, this makes a lot of sense.

We should all be truthful. We should keep trade secrets private. And, we should put in an honest day’s work when we’re there.

We have a duty to be great employees each and every day.

In the past, loyalty at work also brought with it a number of great rewards. We could count on having a job every day. Job security was more of a given. Very often, hard work and commitment resulted in promotions and more money, and years of service guaranteed a comfortable retirement.

Putting the company’s needs first meant putting our own needs first to some degree.

But times have changed. Without putting blame on one side or another, it’s fair to acknowledge that things are different in many modern workplaces. It’s no longer unusual for a company to restructure and cut an entire department – with no notice. It’s also not unusual for a company to look for outside talent to save the day when things are going wrong.

This new climate puts us at an increased risk of losing our job sometime during our career – no matter how great of an employee we may be. It also means the chances go up that we could be overlooked for an internal promotion.

And, with the effort companies are putting into recruiting external talent, it means that we may also be overlooked for a pay raise along the way.

So, what can we do about this new environment?

First, keep being a great employee each and every day. You are your own personal brand. You don’t want to be any less of a good employee just because times have changed and you are adjusting your ideas on loyalty.

Second, focus on your long-term goals. Where do you want to be in five or 10 years? As you work to achieve your goals, observe whether or not your company is supporting those goals. If you are being overlooked for promotions and raises, pay attention. The company is sending a signal.

For whatever reason, they are not aligned to your goals. Your future success is dependent upon your acceptance of this unfortunate fact.

Expand your network and begin searching for a company that does align to your personal goals. When you switch companies, you have a chance to renegotiate your salary and your title. Instead of getting a 2 percent raise this year, what if you could have a 10 percent raise (or more)?

At the end of the day, keep yourself and your future in mind. Don’t sacrifice yourself because you want to be loyal to an organization. If the organization needed to save money, their own loyalty would become much more optional.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.