Is loyalty hurting your business?


When I ran my own business I was proud of the fact that I cared about the people who worked for me. I gave them every chance, treated them fairly and looked after them.

I found out that one of them had been more than a little devious. He was a salesman, on the road all the time, visiting the office perhaps once a month. I had weekly reports on his activity and phone calls during the working day, and he was generating what appeared to be a sensible prospect list.

Somehow, the prospects never quite turned into sales. When I eventually let him go I discovered that he had actually been working for another business whilst claiming to work full time for me.

Looking back, I could see when this had all started. He had worked for me for about 18 months by the time I let him go – or more accurately I had paid him for 18 months. I think he was not focused on my business for perhaps 3 months.

I liked Derek and he was a really professional salesman. His initial results were so good I had him “buddy” one of the other sales guys for a few days.

I didn’t see the fall-off in performance until too late. I was suffering from misplaced loyalty – I thought he would come good again, but my delay and inaction cost us money.

Working with clients I often see the same problem. What is clear to me, as an outsider with no relationship to the individual, is clouded and obscured to the business leaders by their loyalty.

Sometimes it is not an individual in the business but a supplier you’ve worked with for years.

In every case you need to separate the emotional connection from the business need and do the right thing for the business.

If you don’t act, you are not doing good. You may be doing severe damage – perhaps even putting the business and all the others who rely on you at risk.

Weigh up all the facts and make the business decision.


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