The workplace is an amazing place these days.
We interrupt this usual social media and public relations blog to talk about loyalty in the workplace. Or, as is the case in this new century, the lack of loyalty.Â Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about me or a personal experience. Instead, it’s based on thoughts I’ve been having watching what has been a crazy start to the college football offseason.
First, the popular Brian Kelly left the University of Cinncinatti for a much better job at Notre Dame. His departure from the program – a program that was ridiculously bad when he arrived and one he built into a Top 5 team – was met with a mean-spirited wave of criticism and even violence against his home as he headed north to South Bend.
Then today, Tennessee’s first-year head coach Lane Kiffin jolted those on Rocky Top by volunteering to leaved Dodge to get to USC. Kiffin, who has yet to show any consistent success as a head man, was brought back to USC after head coach Pete Carroll followed the Steve Miller Band’s advice and took the money and ran. He said it had nothing to do with the looming NCAA sanctions Teflon Pete and USC will most likely be responsible for over the coming months.
I couldn’t help but look at this situation and try to apply it to the workplace for the rest of us. These guys, most of which are spoiled babies, have got it good. They sign and employment contract and if they get fired, that school must pay off their contract. Conversely, if they leave early – violiating said contract – they lose nothing. They gain a better job and even more money.
For most of us, we get hired and fired without fanfare and without major contracts. But the question of loyalty does loom large.
Talk to anyone who worked for a big company back in the 1950s-1970s, they’ll tell you how loyal they were to the company and how loyal the company was to them. Stories of Christmas bonuses and help when they needed it from the ever-present company are numerous and nostalgic. Loyalty was a two-way street then and it was a mutually beneficial relationship.
Today, much loyalty is asked of employees but the two-way bond of loyalty is long gone in favor of the bottom line. That’s just the way it is. I am not passing judgment on corporate America, in stead just pointing out the fact things are different.
When these coaches jolted their current employers, why is their so much outrage? If Lane Kiffin went 2-9 this past year and was fired, would people be upset because Tennessee didn’t give him enough time to do a good job? Of course not.
Was Brian Kelly “abandoning” the kids at Cincy by taking one of the most coveted jobs in America as the head football coach at Notre Dame? Of course not. He did what was best for him and his career. His concern was not his employer because loyalty is dead on the vine and Kelly knows it. In this era of personal branding, Kelly branded himself right into the job Knute Rockne made famous.
In today’s culture, loyalty is defined by being loyal to yourself and your career. You can’t be loyal to your company, school or clients like you once could. For loyalty to work like it should, it has to be a two-way street instead of the fast one-way lane it is today.
The rise of the personal brand means loyalty between employee and company only exists when it’s mutually beneficial. Outside of that, it’s all about you. It might seem a little selfish but that’s what the marketplace requires us to do. We don’t have a choice anymore. Show too much loyalty and you could find yourself in the unemployment line.
I don’t blame Kelly or Kiffin for grabbing the brass ring. You have to these days to survive. Until American companies and employers put employees and long-term goals ahead of short-term bottom-line objectives, that’s the way it is.
I have to go now, Tennessee is calling me about their head coaching job.