Watching out for Numero Uno When You Are (Too) Loyal to Your Company

Tuesday I wrote Windows of Opportunity to help you rethink how losing something is really the beginning of something new. Wednesday I wrote The Writing on the Wall, to help you trust your gut, and encourage you to NOT ignore the writing on the wall, but to use it to help you prepare for the future. This post is for those of us who are sometimes too loyal to a company, and give too much to the company, even though the company would walk away from you at the drop of a hat.

Some of you have come to me (in person, email, etc.) and asked what’s going on, and what changes are coming up.  It’s true that I have some changes planned for all of 2016, and I’m excited for the day when I can start to share some of those changes with you.  What’s awesome is that instead of being forced into these changes, I have had years to create the opportunities that we are about to embark upon. I’m scared, for sure, but I’m also really excited about what the future could hold.

So, on to today’s topic: Numero Uno. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Numero Uno means YOU.  What are YOUR interests?  Who cares about your interests?

A few decades ago, even for a good part of the 1900’s, your employer watched out for Numero Uno as much as you did. You could go home after work and not worry about losing your job as much as you do today. Today it is different.

That reminds me of a conversation I had with an employer a few years ago. Not my employer, mind you… I was already doing JibberJobber.  This person complained that “employees just don’t have loyalty to their employers anymore!”

Uh… no, they certainly don’t. It’s probably because of how quick an employee will get terminated. A friend of mine was recently terminated from a great, long-term job (I know you don’t think those exist, but in some industries or professions, they certainly do), for the most petty of petty things. It was policy-related, and his boss was spineless to the point of letting this great employee go.

No loyalty to employers?  If they are whining about it, they better look in the mirror first.

So we are at this really weird intersection of watching out for Numero Uno (yourself) while also doing our job.  To do our job right we will have, to some degree, bought into the vision and culture of the company, right?  If we are in management or leadership we will have likely created part of the vision or culture, and we are MORE bought into it.  At this level, any unloyalty we have seems like we are cheating on our company (I’ve been there, done that).

The more loyalty we have towards our company, the more we tend to drift away from being loyal to Numero Uno. And then, almost without warning, we are given a severance or a handshake (or a box and the walk of shame), and we are left alone with Numero Uno and without an income.

What just happened?

I’ve talked to plenty of people who have gone through this and they have found that being loyal to a company is not the right choice. They sound cynical and jaded, even anti-company. They have learned that Numero Uno is numero uno, and companies come and go, lie and change. Don’t get me wrong, they do their job, but they are ready for a change, and they know a change is coming.

Is this a generational thing?  A cultural thing?  Are we ever going to be able to be comfortable at work again, not worrying about some fickle thing that can impact our job “security?”

I don’t know.

For me, I continue to find myself too loyal to organizations and companies. I buy into their vision and culture.  But here’s what I’ve learned, as I’ve matured in my career: change will happen, and when it happens, it’s better to find something else and move on than to wallow in pity and other bad feelings.  I’ve wallowed too long before. I have JibberJobber users who still wallow. Maybe give yourself a few hours to wallow, but more than that, it’s only hurting Numero Uno.

The point of all of this is that there is a balance.  You can’t watch out for Numero Uno too much, and you can’t disavow the company you work for. You have to know what the right mix is.

If you get off-balance, and give too much to one or too much to the other, the changes that will come can be very, very difficult to navigate.

What do you think?  Where are you at on your loyalty to company vs. loyalty to Numero Uno?