Words that Work: Loyal
In this eleventh post on building a high performance culture I want to discuss a word that works well for organizations, buy only when people are measured by its true definition and not bestowed its designation recklessly. The word is loyal.
More about loyal momentarily, but to bring yourself up to date with this series, peruse the following words from past posts that work and consistently weave them, and their ensuing mindsets, into your culture to strengthen it. The words that hurt, and their ensuing mindsets, must be just as diligently weeded out of a culture. A quick review will give you a clear picture of a rare and robust culture, well worth the effort to build.
Words that work:
Earn: to acquire through merit.
Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.
Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.
Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.
Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.
Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.
Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.
Words that hurt:
Fault: responsibility for failure.
To use in a sentence: ”It’s not my fault I had a bad month.” In other words, “I’m a victim.”
Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.
Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.
Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.
Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.
Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.
Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.
The word loyal is defined as “faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.”
Notice there is nothing in the definition relating to how long someone has been with a company. While years put in may signify seniority or tenure, it does not automatically mean the long-term employee has been loyal unless he is currently faithful to his duties and obligations. Consider these thoughts on the true concept of loyalty, and assess your team members to determine if those you’ve been calling loyal because they’ve been with you for many years still qualify for this designation when assessed by the word’s proper meaning:
- Loyalty is more about what someone puts into the time, than the actual time someone puts into an organization; quality over quantity.
- At the end of the day, loyalty is performance; it’s possible for a long-term employee to have stopped performing years ago, but wrongly be considered as “loyal” because of a faulty understanding of what being loyal really means. Frankly, there’s little more disloyal than failing to perform for the people signing your paychecks.
- Tenure can become a license for laziness, and oftentimes long-time employees take their jobs for granted and think they should be able to borrow credibility from past performance or yesteryear and substitute them for results today.
- If years of service are your prime criteria for labeling one as loyal then the brand new, highly performing employee couldn’t be considered as loyal since he hasn’t been with you very long; an absolute unfair characterization of that person.
- If someone has been with you a long time and still is faithful to their duties or obligations, that person is your “A” player; it just doesn’t get much better than that. This person should be a priority and deserves your utmost appreciation and respect.
- If you have to choose between performance and old-time’s sake and sentimentalism you owe it to the rest of the team to opt for performance and insist on a standard where everyone comes to work to prove themselves over again each day, regardless of position, past accomplishments or years of service.
High performance cultures understand the true definition of loyalty, establish that standard and consistently hold others accountable for delivering the performance that makes them worthy of being called loyal teammates and employees.