His name is Balloo. He is a 12-year-old Dalmatian and he is probably the most loyal creature in my life.
You see, Balloo loves unconditionally; he forgets what I did or didn’t do yesterday and is always genuinely excited to see me! He is the most excited in our family and ever since his arrival, whenever the front gate bell rings, with tail wagging and much excitement, he waits at the front door! Here is the thing, in 12 years the visitor has never been for him. Not once. But does that stop him from imagining his dream poodle? NO! But I digress.
It’s not the same with people. You spend eight years delivering dynamic, results orientated presentations and events for a company. You go the extra mile; you lose your entire ego and get stuck into minor and major jobs that are not your responsibility and you’re not invoicing the client to do them! “It’s all about relationship building”, you say and you carry on giving your heart and soul.
One day you get an e-mail from a 3rd party supplier of the company advising you that “your services are no longer required!” All the effort, contracts, relationship building, meetings, birthday cards, gifts, meaningful dialogues, fun, results, contacts, gone in six words. No explanation. You just hear through the grapevine that a restructuring has occurred and you are out. You later find out that one of the underlings has by virtue of the fact that everyone else has resigned, been moved into a position of authority and wants to do things her way. She hijacks your concept and proceeds to run some of the most unsuccessful events in the history of the company!
Years later when the “cool” people are in power, they call you back to do your magic. This time however you are different! You are on guard and have no expectations. You see, if they want loyalty, they had better get Balloo.
For years you work with the minions in a company on projects for the senior management team. You subscribe to the belief that people are people and everyone should be treated with dignity, honour and respect. You support, help, supply, train, befriend, commiserate with and back up these staff members when unfairly treated. A relationship is in place. They become managers and heads of department themselves and you foolishly expect these people to not only continue supporting you, but to make you their number one supplier. No silly, they simply become a worse version of the manager they used to hate and become self-serving corporate vultures. If you want loyalty, feed the dog!
All the books, courses and programs will and do wax lyrical about how to build relationships. But the truth is, in the real world, everyone is just looking out for themselves.
Many years ago I dated a lovely woman, we split up but always remained (I thought) good friends. We both married (different people) but stayed in touch on and off. I still call her every year on her birthday and we do lunch about once a year. She used my services once or twice in 19 years. Strange thing though, – after years of relationship, the “blowing smoke”, to my face about how good I am, how much she likes me, how much we are “buds” for life – she consistently uses other people for 99% of all of her functions. To my face she’ll say one thing but then her actions “do” another. If you want loyalty may I suggest a Dalmatian?
I sat in front of one of South Africa’s top CEOs while discussing a rather unfortunate breach of contract by one of his employees, a breach that had cost me a substantial loss. After two years of loyal results and service and a (relationship) with this top guy he looked me in the eye and said “Gavin, you are too much of a loyal asset to our company, I will have this matter sorted for you by five o’clock this afternoon.”
That was in the early 90’s and I’m still waiting for his call! If you want loyalty may I suggest a boomerang?
Eight years of loyal service as an employee of a large company, she was unhappy with the way she was treated so she resigned. No one tried to stop her. Her devastated staff clubbed together to throw her a farewell and shockingly only one general manager attended the event. If you want loyalty get a frequent user client card.
I get a confirmed booking for an event from a long-standing “loyal” client only for it to be cancelled at the last-minute and to be told, “We are looking for a black!” They originally booked me because of the results that I never fail to deliver, but I am bumped, dropped because my skin is white. No other reason. Stuff the loyalty, the extra mile, the results and the fact that I am perfect for the event. If you want loyalty get a blender.
I suppose I can understand someone being disloyal if terms and conditions have not been met or performance is substandard. The supplier who does the bare minimum and lowers standards, should expect a performance review and standards-check, with a warning to up their game or the business will be placed elsewhere. But when the standards and results are exceptional and getting better – without notice – to be discarded! What I don’t get is betrayal of loyalty for no reason. In fact, betrayal of loyalty in spite of fantastic service delivery and results, is just cruel. If you want loyalty get Samantha Sharples.
MARRIAGE IS NO EXCEPTION. In marriages loyalty plays a big part. The man who promises to provide for his family and then doesn’t (after consultation and attempts to resolve) can expect his wife and family to seek a new financial partner. The man who marries the nymphomaniac but finds out shortly after the nuptials, he is living with sister Chastity Belt, then after negotiations and awareness one could, would, expect him to seek a new supplier outside of the loyalty program!
The contract of marriage I feel has little to do with the actual piece of paper you sign, but more to do with the delivered promise of the actions displayed and advertised before the marriage. The actions, goods and services that were advertised, sampled and agreed to, are in my opinion, the actual deliverables. Loyalty for me is the ongoing and consistent delivery of the goods, services and actions that caused a decision to be taken to make the other party the preferred supplier and to sign up for the loyalty program (marriage). Every married woman should have a “stuff-you fund”, set up for the event of disloyalty. In fact real men actually set up a “stuff-you fund” for their wives.
But today I am older, wiser and I have a wonderful collection of scars to remind me to “keep it real”. Most people are generally loyal to themselves, their self interests and covering their asses. Out of fear mostly, some people make decisions that aren’t in the best interests of others. If you want loyalty get Kikuyu grass.
But thank goodness. There are people and companies who are not like this and loyalty is one of their Cornerstone values. Seek these people out, go the extra mile for them and enjoy it while it lasts! Remember, however, my fellow traveller, things will change and it may not last. You will meet scoundrels on your path, – they will smile and shake your hand and preach about human capital and human resources. They will tell you that their people are their greatest asset and resource. Then the share price drops or profits are down and you get an e-mail on a Friday afternoon just before going home for a weekend, “your services are no longer required!” NB – Always have a backup plan! Be able to face disloyalty by walking away from any business salary, for eight months, without it affecting your lifestyle or bottom line! For most of you that means start saving and don’t leave all your eggs in one basket. Keep making contacts for emergencies and never be surprised when a loyal employee tells you he’s stolen money from you! Don’t be shocked to find out that her mother was actually not on death’s door for the time she needed to take off to Cape Town and that in fact she forgot that common friends would post photos of her enjoying a 40th birthday party on Facebook! The exact time she was supposed to be saying hail Mary’s she was drinking bloody Mary’s. (All true stories)
Don’t become cynical, trust everyone and expect loyalty but never put your guard down and if you really want loyalty get Gavin Sharples.
Some people say loyalty is something that is nurtured over time. Well yes! But it’s also something that means nothing when the right deal comes along, a younger model, a new look, a fresh approach, a new fad or better offer. By all means build a loyal client base, following, relationships and support. It’ll pay off most of the time but don’t be surprised if loyalty just becomes a word in the dictionary.
I suppose the real opportunity, due to the fact that it’s so rare and fickle, is for you to become Ms, or Mr Loyal. Be the loyal supplier and or employee. Be the manager that holds loyalty as his number one attribute. It’s a rare commodity that will give you the edge. If you’re looking for loyalty you will find it amongst people on the road less travelled.
Have a great July!