Retiring of a Hero

How to reward loyalty?

There is something baffling about the year-end. The holiday season syndrome manages to keep you incredibly busy, but with a “de-intensity” that doesn’t allow you to accomplish anything reasonable! I too had my share of singing, dancing, partying, and all good things in life that you work hard for. Perhaps, these indulgences explain my lethargy in getting back to productive activities like “blogging”. Of course, whether “blogging” falls in the productive category is an altogether different subject. But from web community’s perspective, the blogger does owe his loyal followers a continuous churn of content! Or does he? Does ‘loyalty’ deserve special privileges across all walks of professional life? For instance, who holds the trump card—an ‘average’ employee who dedicates several years of his life to his employer, or a ‘bright’ new employee who has just arrived in the organization?

The Twisting Tale of a Loyalist…

Amongst the first four employees that Cybage hired, the most modest personality was Vishal Adkar (withholding the real name for a reason). He had kind of gatecrashed into our campus recruitment being held at CDAC’s Pune campus. You see, Vishal didn’t belong to the passing out batch. He was a CDAC alumni who had not managed to land up with a job in spite of the booming IT job market! His financial position was very fragile, which explained why the CDAC coordinator intervened to allow him to appear for campus interviews. Two minutes with Vishal and it was clear why he was still jobless. He was too much of a simpleton, so much so that he wouldn’t speak at all —in any language! My dad prompted me to extend Vishal an offer… purely out of humanitarian consideration. And Vishal joined Cybage— two weeks prior to the other three employees; you see, someone had to help with cable, computer, furniture setup, etc.

Very quickly, Vishal became a key back-end programmer of Cyberage raider. His mild and cooperative demeanor made him reasonably popular amongst his teammates. Then when Cybage forayed into services business, there was a quick exodus of the original team to the land of opportunity. That is, everyone except Vishal! His personality made it difficult for him to get an overseas break. So he stayed a while longer and helped stabilize the first few contracts of Cybage before, eventually, his much awaited break to migrate to USA came through. Over the next few years, Vishal stayed in constant touch, a more confident professional who hadn’t forgotten his roots, his heartfelt gratitude and unflinching loyalty towards Cybage stayed intact!

Then, one day, he decided to migrate back to India. Cybage, of course, welcomed him back with open arms. The most ‘original’ loyalist coming back—what more could Cybage ask for? And thus began Vishal’s second stint with Cybage, this time as a mid-tier System Analyst.

And then something strange happened…a very unexpected story unfolded! Vishal’s performance was just not up to the mark. He still worked very hard and was fully committed, but not to the organization’s satisfaction vis-à-vis his peers. Pretty soon it became obvious—Vishal had not changed, but Cybage had moved on! With our growing brand and deeper pockets, we had managed to rope in brighter professionals than the original Cybage team, so the clear distinction stood out. We tried two project changes with Vishal, but the stark contrast persisted. As time rolled by, Vishal found himself at the receiving end of our appraisal system’s fairness prompting him to eventually bid adieu to Cybage—this time for good! Sad ending; Cybage did not even attempt to hold back one of its original crusaders!

So how much importance does the word “loyalty” holds for an organization? In a clinical sense, loyalty implies refined qualities such as a finer degree of “Commitment”, “Attitude” and “Org Alignment”. These qualities are parameters that are used to gauge a professional in every organization. No different than other key parameters such as “IQ”, “Technical”, “Communication”, and so on. So, if the raw ingredients that make up loyalty are already weaved into every organization’s appraisal DNA, what is the need to duplicate them by adding redundant parameters like “years of tenure” in the measurement environment? After all, isn’t over-bias towards ‘loyalty’ the same as relative penalizing of a ‘newcomer’ in the organization? Clearly, “a blind loyalty towards loyalty” can spell doom for an organization in the long run.

However when it comes to matters of heart, “turning a blind eye towards loyalty” has equally disastrous implications—for loyalists are the organization’s cultural touch bearers, and any cultural dilution is the beginning of any company’s collapse! The matter is further complicated by the current demand-supply mismatch in our industry where the clearly drawn battlefield sees equally formidable armies on both sides—loyalists versus job-hoppers! Both battalions have pros and cons in their arsenal. With Lord Krishna off on a timeless sabbatical, which side should the confused ARjUN pick?

“Pro” debate: What is more advantageous: Org alignment of a loyalist, or industry exposure of a job hopper?

“Con” debate: Which vice is worse: Complacency of a loyalist, or opportunism of a job hopper?

Perhaps the good old-fashioned opinion/comment poll by the learned audience can help arJun arrive at that elusive balance point?

Original, Team, Loyalty, Style


  1. “Seniority is important; but, vision, imagination and hard work is more important” – Barrack Obama
    Loyalty is important but a true loyalist is clearly one who can adapt to the changing requirements of the organization and continue to excel in the face of fierce competition from job-hoppers.
    Efficency and ability to deliver should be the deciding factors irrespective of loyalty/ tenure in the organization.

  2. Every human being on this earth is an opportunist the priorities might differ but the fact remains that we all are always waiting for good opportunities in our lives. Job hoppers see this opportunity in a new job or a brand new organization and Loyalists see this opportunity in their current organization. The constant movement of opportunists makes them more unsecure about their future and make them more open to new ideas and innovations. In contrast the loyalists feel less unsecure and more settled than their counterparts, which stop the inflow of information and the process of self-up gradation.

    The solution to this is either we can convert the Job hoppers into loyalists by giving them or showing them good opportunities or we can upgrade the loyalists with new ideas and new technologies to make them more productive.

  3. I must say helping Arjun will not be an easy task for the audience this time, but we can make efforts. On my part, I would suggest him that in the long run, Org alignment of a loyalist is more advantageous.

  4. My opinion is too encourage loyalist having proven and required skills for the job. He may be filling injustice due to less pay than job hopper but for organization, experience of loyalist helps a lot.
    However, you can not retain employee whose skills are way low than expected for the job profile.

  5. Loyalty is the most important and should give first priority…
    Loyal employee can upgrade his or her knowledge as per the requirement….but what about the job hoppers if they change the job whenever they required…not secure.

    Encourage the loyal person/employee to upgrade…it will best decision in long term…

  6. As years pass by, the company changes too. The company is right in not giving more money to a person who stays for years in the same place but does not add value in proportion. Also the company should be careful of job hoppers who dont care for the company and just see it as a stepping stone to another company with a bigger package. The company should also be careful of people who appear to be growing with the company, but seek to fullfill their own ends at the companies expense.

  7. I would prefer to have fair combination of both, since for organization to sustain and have steady growth we should has to have team of spartans. A fresher engineer is a jack of all but master of none and a long run employee is expert in limited technologies and which is the scope as per organization current needs. So to adapt such a rapid changing environment I would like to put more and more efforts toward employee skills up-gradation as per organization future.
    On the top of all I would like to build the team of people who having sound vision and good foresight which ultimately gives quality resources to the organization.

  8. Loyalists do have an intrinsic value to an organization that we can’t deny. However, when it comes to the question of ROI for the organization one can’t make a choice on emmotional ground. Another view is, if the interests of the loyalist and the organization are not aligned, and cannot be aligned, then one of the two must let go!

  9. Idea is to cope with and move-on along the changing business environments, diverse exposures, challenging needs, etc. which is applicable to both, the organization as well as the individuals. Hence, its important to observe how it is going to be fulfilled, irrespective of the said distinction.
    Else, the Org might exhaust the same amount of effort and investment in dealing with the complacency of a loyalist, or opportunism of a job hopper.

  10. In both cases, I would be with loyalist i.e.
    Org alignment of a loyalist is more advantageous And Complacency of a loyalist is worse

    BC 400 years, even when Chānakya decided CHANGE/IMPROVEMENT, he made sure that all existing capable people get correct weightage though it was a gigantic transformation. Capable People where in Magadh, however under shadow, not delivering on expectation due to one or another reason, …When clubbed with progressive thinking of Chandragupta Maurya (rooted from Chānakya), his army, philosophy of Chānakya, EXTENDED empire from Patliputra (Patna) till Afghanistan(current day).

    Chānakya did the perfect blend of new waves and existing Magadh army.
    __ He knew that you could win but cannot withstand, if you diversify too much from your
    culture/core (that’s why he appointed same chief-minister “Amatya Rakshasa”, loyalist Army chief, asked Chandragupta to marry defeated king’s (Dhana Nanda) daughter, to gain county confidence) and kept loyalist intact and provided appropriate positions__

    Considering all, most important is company growth, culture and alignment to the company philosophy and if loyalist could improve through proper facilitation well and good, ELSE let them be at CORRECT places with few additional weightage [as most of the time, you would always have more trust on execution ] over job-hopper.
    And let the growth and expertise take front seat [which include improved loyalist].


  11. As I started reading the blog with curiosity, my smile broadened as different thoughts/examples circulated in my grey cells.
    In order to judge my opinion on the blog, I’ve taken the current burning topic – the Indian cricket team and its performance overseas. I’ve related the youngsters to ‘job hoppers’ and seniors to ‘loyalists’ – though some of you may argue about substantial differences between the two topics.
    So, shall we still encourage the ‘loyalists’ who’ve rendered service over the years to the company but ARE NOT delivering now at crunch time? Or shall we pave the path for the ‘new’ brand of innovative ‘job hoppers’ who MAY take the company to astonishing heights?

  12. In both cases, I would be with time. Time will only decide who will be required at that movement, as both are needed to grow…so you should have both.

  13. Dear Arun,
    Interesting thoughts and debatable point. Loyalty is important and should be respected and sometimes even considered even if the performance of loyalist is lower, but that should be done to the extent that it DOES NOT OVERRIDE organization goals, peer performances etc. Yes, its a fine balance at the end of the day, leaders need to do.  

  14. A different Perspective: As an employee – I try and act as an Independent Organization – who has his own goals/interests/needs and partners with an Employer in a mutually beneficial manner. Both partners have to keep their parts of the contract and abide by rules. The day this relationship changes – either way – wrinkles appear and may lead to either party walking away. Terms like Loyalty, Rewards have no meaning when a relationship is treated as a Business Partnership which must remain mutually beneficial.

  15. Do Swadharma, Avoid Paradharma.

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Retiring of a Hero - Arun Nathani Blog