According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person will change jobs an average of 12 times over the course of his working life, and if you’re lucky, you might stay in the same job for about five years.
The days of working for a company for 20–30 years to earn a gold watch are over. They were the good ‘ole glory days of a time gone by. The working relationship of the era was built on trust. Employees went to work trusting employers that if they put in years of good hard work, they would be rewarded with a gold watch or a gold bracelet and a retirement package that would take care of the family for the rest of their lives. The premise is built on loyalty to the company, and the company, in return, rewards loyalty by taking care of its people.
Good service is to be praised and rewarded, but is it reasonable to expect a lifelong commitment? This life-long reward model isn't economically feasible. At some point, the number of living years outbalances the effort you gave if you live a nice, long life. Does it make more sense for loyalty to be an exchange for years of service for an equal number of years of reward?
The Broken Model
If you start working with a company after school, let’s lie to ourselves for a moment and assume the old model still exists. You start working for a company in your early 20’s. By the time you retire, at age 55 or so, you begin receiving rewards for time served — and we’re not talking about a prison sentence unless your time at that company was some kind of conviction. You stayed for 20–30 years or so, earning reward points, so now, you can’t complain too much. Your Discover card will thank you if you earned points by using its credit privileges.
But, and it’s a big one, everything changed.
The retirement age changed. It’s something like 66, and retirement funds dried up before they were supposed to stop paying out because employees stopped being loyal to the company. At about the same time, companies stopped being loyal to employees, too, for many different reasons, mostly reasons that fostered a bigger bottom line.
A new VP came in and had to meet a new goal to increase the numbers on the bottom line. Employees’ little rewards went away. Coffee stopped being supplied, snacks became absent in break rooms, and employees started asking, why? Workers become disgruntled, and team worker for team company dissolved as everyone started thinking about team self. Workers continue to desire the privileges they've become accustomed to having and don't understand how much unnecessary niceties cost the company.
A guy who knows a lot about winning said:
“There is no “I” in team, but there is in win.” — Michael Jordan
It’s a slam dunk of an idea that fosters teamwork. When we work together and help each other, we can do anything. Except that everyone’s perspective has gone to self. The beautiful color of a group win has fallen to the ugly color of self, and when we’re so focused on self, there’s no team, and no team win.
Hello, consolation trophies. A trophy for the team can’t go in the showcase because I’ll have nothing as a showcase for my efforts to show off at home. Good-bye loyalty.
Where did it all go wrong? Do we want to go back? Was wrong, right? Or is right, wrong? Nothing gets done unless there's a personal benefit. And, everyone is out for himself? Herself? There are too few group wins and a genuine spirit of loyalty. No one is loyal unless it is to their own cause.
It all comes back to loyalty, and we’ve passed the torch on this idea of working for the gold watch based on good service and trust. We’re so guarded; in most cases, we’ve forgotten how to trust each other.
Stay True to Yourself
You’ve got to stay true to yourself. If you have absolute values, morals, and a code of what it means to be a good person, it’s important to foster those qualities.
It’s essential not to sacrifice values that put your integrity in jeopardy. But how far should you go? What hills are you willing to die on? How much should you be willing to give?
A man of wisdom said:
“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness .”— Napoleon Hill
It’s time we stop lying and embrace the truth. Can you handle the truth? Once in a while, we run across a few good men left standing with ethical ideals, what we have mostly, is a culture of people looking out for number one.
Mostly, people care about themselves, not others. We stand for “I” before team and we don’t look out for our fellow men. Is there any character left of the days where gold watches were plentiful? Can we rebirth a cohesive helpful, cooperative environment that is less self-serving? Can we tell time, not by the gold watch that is broken and hiding in a drawer, not by the gold bracelet with a broken clasp, but also not by how much “I” there is?
Is there still room to work together? Fostering teamwork takes commitment and a willful choice to put others before self.
I’m tired of lying to myself that loyalty exists. Aren’t you? There is too much take and not enough give. There’s comfortable loyalty, but not uncomfortable loyalty. Loyalty is dead. It’s a jaded perspective, but it’s the truth.
Are we up for the challenge of rebuilding a loyal team where we color working together pretty instead of working by ourselves and proclaiming “me” at all costs?
Is it possible, or should I just stop lying to myself?