One of my employees recently left my company with a chip on his shoulder and with a few of our customers. I thought he was a loyal guy. In hindsight, I missed so many signs. Do you think there are truly loyal employees out there? If so, how can I identify them?
We can learn a lot about loyalty from the apostles. On one end of the spectrum, there was Judas, who put on a good show but lacked loyalty at the highest level. He positioned himself as the kind of guy who was dedicated to Jesus and concerned about the poor, yet his facade only hid the fact that he was a thief.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there was St. John, a great example of supernatural loyalty. His loyalty was stronger than fear. Despite seeing Jesus arrested, falsely accused, scourged and crucified, John stayed at the foot of the cross.
Then there was St. Peter. He represents the most common type of dedicated loyalty. Ultimately, Peter gave his life for Christ, but he grew into that grace after he denied Christ three times. Jesus knew Peter would be weak at that moment, yet he chose him to be his vicar.
There are three simple ways that I have learned to estimate the loyalty of people I bring into my life at work.
The first is not a character or personality assessment as much as it is an observation of maturity. There are times where new employees or partners express their loyalty in such absolute terms that I can only derive that they lack the experience to understand what they are saying. For example, there are new employees who tell me that they are committed to my company “for life” yet they have barely experienced what that could possibly mean. I try to estimate loyalty based on their understanding of what loyalty actually means beyond the “honeymoon” phase. Can the person in question realistically describe what it means to be loyal when push comes to shove? Do they see loyalty as an emotion like some people see love? Or do they see loyalty as a decision? If you can get a grasp on that, then you can begin to make a good estimate.
The second way I estimate loyalty is through humility. A humble person is a loyal person. To estimate loyalty, we are mostly limited to objective observations and “gut.” Humility can be observed when people make mistakes. Do they openly and readily own up to them or do they deny them and push the blame on others? People who push blame are never loyal.
The third way I estimate loyalty is by eagerness. Loyal people are eager to advance the cause of an organization. They don’t sit back and wait to be told what to do. They don’t wait to care. This is a lasting characteristic. It is an active participation in the mission.
These three “ways” allow for a few mistakes here and there. They allow for the St. Peters out there to make mistakes but to rise to a new occasion. A second chance for the right person can be the right approach. We can all make mistakes on these estimates, but with openness to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we will get it right most of the time.
Catholic business consultant Dave Durand is online at DaveDurand.com.