The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Loyalty Only Works If It’s A Two Way Street …

So recently a friend of mine asked me for some advice.

OK, so that was their first mistake, but their question was one they felt I would have some perspective on.

[For the record, I asked her if I could write about this on here and she said yes]

So she’s worked at her company for 7 years.

It’s a good company – one of the best – and she has been rewarded with compliments and payrises.

Over the years, she’s been offered other jobs but has never seriously considered them.

Part of it is because she likes the work she does and who she does it with, the other is her most senior people keep telling her how important and valued she is.

But that’s all that is happening.

Being told rather than being given chances to grow.

Now I appreciate this is still better than many companies do, but now there’s an option on the table that she is genuinely excited about.

One that scares her in a good way.

Rewards her talent both in terms of responsibility, authority, pay and title.

And yet she’s hesitating.

Not because she isn’t excited. Not because she doesn’t like the company. But because she doesn’t feel she has “achieved what she wants to achieve before she feels she can move on” … and that’s what she wanted to talk to me about.

Now anyone who knows me will know I’ll never tell someone what to do. It’s their job to learn from their mistakes and choices. However one thing I do well is ask questions … questions designed to make the person think and get clarity at the same time. And the question I asked my friend was ‘what are you waiting to achieve before you could move on?’

It wasn’t a great surprise to learn that what she was talking about wasn’t actual work, but validation.

Now you could say that she had been receiving this through the compliments, but what she really craved was proof, not words.

Proof in the terms of promotion.

Proof in the terms of new opportunities.

Proof in the terms of new challenges.

I get that – I get that more than you know – but what it meant was she was basically a prisoner, because the longer they withheld the ‘ultimate proof’, the longer she would stay. It is – I imagine – somewhat akin to people who stay with an abusive partner feel. Desperate for approval so regard being abused/overlooked as something that is ultimately their own fault and they stay to try and ‘win them over’.

Now I get staying in a well-paid job is very different to domestic abuse and so if that analogy has hurt anyone, I apologise … but I told my friend 3 things she should think about.

1. When a boss continually compliments you but doesn’t promote you – despite continually, and undeniably, showing your worth – then what they actually mean could be ‘they want you to stay so they don’t have to deal with the shit when you go’. In other words, the compliments are designed more to help them than you.

2. If you have been consistently performing – and your reviews reinforce that – but nothing is happening, maybe you have to accept that their ambition for you doesn’t meet your ambition for you.

3. Lastly – and possibly, most importantly – if this situation has been going on for the last 2 years, how long do you give it before you decide the effort/investment you’re putting in is ultimately working against your bigger goals and potential?

A company that cares is a wonderful thing.

A company that says they care is a different thing altogether.

While it is impossible to help everyone grow in an organisation because – let’s face it – the higher you go, the less roles there are – you do deserve to know where you stand, if only so you can make the right decision for yourself.

Of course, that means you might hear things you don’t want to hear, but while being kept in the dark might help keep your ego in a pleasant state of delusion, it will ultimately bite you at some point in the future.

I don’t know what my friend is going to do and I appreciate change is scary but as much as loyalty is a very valuable trait, it only works if it’s built on honesty and is a 2-way street.

14 Comments so far
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Totally agree Robert. Companies keep saying their employees are their best asset but they often quietly add “when they work on our terms”. I believe I know who you are referring to, I do hope they see the opportunity more than the need to validate themselves.

Comment by George

Actually that is THE issue…seeing people as assets, than, well, just people.

Assets simply need to be kept in “good working order”…and that seems to be the goal of the org she works for…keep her in good working order so as Robert says, they don’t have to deal with the shit of her leaving.

Same holds for other terms of human endearments in org’s such as resource and capital. We are none of those either.

Comment by Larry Cooper (@cooperlk99)

It is who you think it is. I hope she does what makes her feel excited and fulfilled.

Comment by Rob

I’ll give your that you were honest with where people stood and backed up what you said you’d do. I thought that was a given till I left.
Good post, tell your friend not to believe their lies.

Comment by DH

Are you ill? You know this is a compliment, right?

[But thank you, that’s lovely to hear]

Comment by Rob

I remember your “you make your own fucked up decisions” talk very well. Nice to know others have suffered the same fate and not just me.

Comment by DH

Except if you go to Rob for advice, he fucks you up.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Only to you Billy.

Comment by Rob

That’s what you think.

Comment by DH

Don’t some people need to be told what to do?

Comment by John

Yes … but you know perfectly well what I mean.

But it is nice to see Mr Pedantic is alive and well.

Comment by Rob

I wasn’t being pedantic. If I’d known I wouldn’t have asked the question. And yes that’s pedantic.

Comment by John

doddsy wins the prize prick award. its a compliment.

Comment by andy@cynic

Excellent post Robert. Total agreement. Loyalty is most definitely a two way street and companies would do well to understand their role extends beyond simply providing a regular salary.

Comment by Lee Hill

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