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New norm, new loyalty (Part 2)

In business today, decision-makers face big challenges. This is nothing new, managers are constantly dragged down by the situations they have to deal with, and the pandemic of the last two years has made this even more intense. Every era has its own areas of leadership that a general manager needs to be better at to be truly successful. Well, for the coming years, HR is certainly the segment where a top decision-maker needs to be able to go the extra mile. However, it is a particularly interesting topic to see what are the current challenges within the HR field, which are very broad in scope, and that need special attention to achieve and maintain company success. According to perfectly unanimous opinions, loyalty is the first on the imaginary list. So, to translate this reasoning, if a leader wants to be successful today, he or she must know all about loyalty!

And then what?

It is impossible to go through all the reasons, of course, but it is possible to form an appropriate grouping of what the main motives for loyalty are for different people. Typing systems are intended to serve this methodology, by the way, but they should be used with care, because if a system is superficial and misleading, it is even more problematic than if we had not used such a tool at all, but simply focused on our intuition as good leaders. However, we really need to understand that generalisations are not going to get us very far in this area. Even if we look only at the main trends, we can see that loyalty is not a universal concept and that everyone has a different interpretation of it. Traditional theory attributes this personality trait to the amount of time spent in a company and does not look behind the person and why they stayed in one place. But all personality types, and therefore all people, are capable of this type of loyalty. Even the least loyal person will stay in a job if all their goals are met. Staying in a position for a long time is mostly due to fear of change. That’s why managers are advised to move on from time to time, because headhunters will think they can’t change. But what if, say, the same company is going through a period of development where, say, the business is moving up a dimension? In my own circle of acquaintances, there are “loyal” people who ended up in, say, an international company that was undergoing a major expansion, and although they could not stay in the same job for long, every six months or so, it was as if they were dropped into a completely new company environment. They love new things, but they don’t need to move on to make a serious change. The odd thing is that they themselves don’t consider themselves loyal; they don’t really stick to either company or people. They are selfish types, but their own interests wanted them to stay for up to 7 or 8 years. And this is the point that needs to be very clear about loyalty. We also talk a little bit about who is selfish or altruistic. But it would be a great pity to put the stigma of “loyal” on people who are not selfish. They tend to stay put because they are afraid of change. For them, the saying “better the devil you know” is exactly right. They know how it is! And the other main reason for staying is the human connections and the familiarity that develops in a job, and for these people that is more important than a new job or even a higher salary. This is why different people’s ‘loyalty’ can be bought and influenced in different ways, and we need to be aware of this if we really want to retain our most important colleagues at this mentally charged time. We also need to recognise that we cannot please everyone, which means we also need to set a clear direction for the company in terms of loyalty. So we need to set the standards that everyone must follow. Some people will be loyal and stay with us if they keep getting higher positions and income. For some, the most important thing is to be constantly challenged and to have constant attention. Then there are those for whom habit, stability and human relationships are the most important, and there are those who base their loyalty on professional skills and responsibilities. Of course, an excellent corporate background can appeal to all of these types at once, but it requires a lot of planning. This is why even large professional organisations tend to set two main guidelines, so as not to be too general to the outside observer. This is the issue that causes most of the headaches in the development of smaller ‘garage companies’. We know all too well how everything changes when a company grows from being almost a family business to having hundreds of employees. It is precisely these issues of loyalty that become confused. Norms are not set, but the organisation simply goes with the flow, and of course, this does not end well, because it is the best professionals who leave the company environment first, because of the generalisation.

Loyalty is a complex issue, but it certainly depends on company norms. It is therefore important to set them down in concrete terms so that they do not develop on their own. And, of course, once they are set in stone, it is good manners to stick to them. In fact, we as managers must take the lead in this.

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New norm, new loyalty (Part 1)