Monday, February 02, 2009

On Loyalty

A must-read for brown-nosers who think that in this economy their jobs will be spared by a boss who will sooner keep a mediocre employee because they know how to fetch a venti latte over a capable, less-emotionally invested employee: check out Jack and Suzy Welch, former CEO and first lady of GE, and their opinion piece in BusinessWeek on the issue of "loyalty."

In short, performance trumps martyrdom. Slave away if you want on weekends, skip your father's funeral and look the other way as your relationship tanks if you want, but don't expect your boss to care about your spineless "commitment" come time to slash throats. Is it evil? Unfair? Cold and heartless? Not really. That these words are coming from a mushy push-over like myself should really get you worked up, too. If post-college life has taught me one thing it's that "fair" is for the playground (Candace Bushnell said this somewhere and it makes perfect sense), and in the real world, you're only as good as your last big feat. So keep your game up, kids.

No one can say for sure that their job is safe. It's a fact that I've come to terms with, so every now and again you'll find me folding my sweaters and jeans ever so delicately as I prepare myself to re-enter the world of retail with greater ease on the day that my strategic thinking is rendered useless by my company. Instead of wanting to rage against the machine and slap a couple of people because it's not fair that my job isn't safe, I see the transformation of the professional landscape from rows of cubicles to a battle field as a tremendous opportunity. Someone has to come out on top, and it might as well be me.

This thinking is also liberating. Think about it: that boss you're kissing up to today could be asking you for a spare box to pack up his or her things tomorrow. So why waste your time trying to be the best Smithers you can be when you could be up early, reading the news and looking for ever more ways to be useful to your company? When the ship is sinking it's every man for himself. So have at it kids. And if this seems harsh, just know there are always jeans that need to be folded and lattes to be served.