“The traditional practice of loyalty has been compromised with a modern version of loyalty as has altered the meaning of such words as respect, integrity and ethical conduct.”
These words which are attributed to Carl ToersBijn, that admirably reflect a feature that characterises workplaces and organizations within contemporary societies.
Inasmuch that loyalty has emerged from the value system, it is expected that those who practice it, would be individuals who could think and reason for themselves, are committed to following the rules, not prepared to blindly follow those set in authority, and are not driven purely by emotion.
Loyalty in any organisation or enterprise is visible where there is a display of mutual respect. In the trade union movement this lack of mutual respect often leads to division amongst the membership. Loyalty at the level of the leadership can be eroded where truthfulness is lacking, and trust, transparency, accountability are absent. These create tensions that are hard to quell. Resentment and conflict emerge as a response to loss of trust, faith and confidence that was reposed in the practices, systems and the leadership of the organisation.
The deliberate mistreating and misguiding of employees, is one sure way that management can lose the respect, trust and loyalty of those committed to it. This can be avoided by simply telling the truth, and not withholding pertinent information which should be communicated in order that informed decisions can be made.
Providing part of the information, giving inaccurate information, or distorting information that is to be communicated, is an act of deception. Employees have an expectation that the organisation will respect them. If employees are to remain loyal to their boss and to the organisation, it requires that management demonstrates that it is not insensitive to the needs and concerns of workers. It all falls apart when employees feel that no one cares about them.
The practice of manipulation, coupled with a dictatorial leadership style of leadership, is dangerous in maintaining loyalty in an organisation. Those who take pride in playing off individuals against each other, and whose modus operandi is designed to drive fear in the hearts of subordinates, will tend to fool themselves that they have attained the loyalty of their employees.
It is at this point that it becomes a game of checkers or draughts, with each individual waiting quietly for the opportunity to out fox the other. The fallout from this is that it can be the catalyst for whistle blowing. This is a mine field that has the potential to undermine any effort to build trust and loyalty amongst employees.
The subject of workplace loyalty is one of wide and varied dimensions. In this instance the focus has been placed on the creation of division amongst employees through the engaging of unethical behaviour and practices by management and/or leaders.
It is established that management can be a major contributor to the disloyalty of workers. The other side of the coin shows that were workers are disengaged, the loyalty of employees to the organization becomes a matter for concern.
The Gallup Poll which was conducted by James Harter, divided workers into three parts: “engaged” employees are those who are “emotionally attached to their workplaces and motivated to be productive”. “Not engaged” employees are those who are “emotionally detached and unlikely to be self-motivated,” while “actively disengaged” employees are those who “view their workplaces negatively and are liable to spread that negativity to others”.
It seems clear that the disengaged are potential threats to workplace loyalty. Those managers and leaders, who tend to wield their influence and apply the big stick policy, should be aware that which may be intended to create a culture of loyalty, might in fact be doing the contrary.
* Dennis De Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.
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