Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Corporate Loyalty

I still feel some. OK a lot. But I don't know why. I guess it's because I want to offer up my work in a religious sense, so it comes naturally?

Dear Bob ...

Someone who reports to me has a hobby, and makes it clear that he would rather be doing that full-time than IT. He displays his works, and in a low-key but not invisible way solicits business from others in the company.

He's not being dishonest or neglectful of his duties. But it still bothers me. Is this my problem--or his? Whatever happened to good old loyalty and dedication? Or at least discretion?

- Starting to boil

Dear Starting ...

Just my opinion: It isn't a problem at all.

From your account, the employee is delivering to your expectations and is at least on a par with his peers. He isn't using company equipment or more than neglible amounts of time for his side-business (if he's soliciting from other employees it isn't just a hobby). "Low key" solicitation sounds like he isn't distracting other employees from their work either - it fits into the normal day-to-day chatter.

I've had clients with employees who ran whole businesses from their desks, giving their side-businesses priority over their work responsibilities. That's a real issue and must be dealt with. Your situation is different. Don't let it aggravate you. Because ...

... what happened to loyalty and dedication is that corporate America stopped rewarding them, and stopped all pretense of showing them toward employees. It took a long time, but employees finally figured out that continuing to act loyally and with dedication themselves is a sucker move, unless their employer demonstrates, tangibly, that it isn't in the mainstream and still values these traits.

An employee who keeps something else going on the side to hedge his or her bets isn't being disloyal or undedicated. The word, I think, is "smart."

If you don't like this approach to the workplace, that's okay. If you want to do something about it, that's okay too - it's part of what leadership is about. Don't frame this up as a values issue, though.

Just change the employee's work environment so it engages more of his attention.

- Bob

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