Loyalty to People
The people, it’s all about the people. I see a lot of college professors posting about leadership with corporate types taking the language and sharing it like gospel. At the same time in companies today, people often act in ways that are counter to this positive language. Why do people leave companies? They leave because they are happy? They leave because they are compensated well? They leave because they are treated with fairness and kindness? They leave because in the relationship that they worked so very hard to form by way of interview, acceptance, and sacrifice something broke down.
I have worked in Defense, Energy, Pharma, Insurance, Consulting, and Engineering. Every large company had the same common theme. Human Resources was underfunded, operational costs were too high on the IT side, investment in people amounted to some kind of employee resource group and organizational leaders had corporate blindness. What is corporate blindness? It is when senior leaders can’t see what is going on around them in the company other than presentations or budget reports.
Corporate blindness is like inflammation in the body of a company. Management does what it has to do to answer the pressures of the board and the market. The pressure to save money and increase revenue doesn’t drive an increase in loyalty to its people. It decreases loyalty in the form of “have to.” Corporate management has to let people go. They have to reduce headcount, they have to outsource, they have to change the operating model, and they have to bring in a third party to assess the workforce. They didn’t want to do it but they “had to” do it. Unfortunately, this becomes normal and if people stay at a company for long periods of time, it is due to their ability to either stay under the radar or demonstrate some value that can’t be immediately replaced perceptually. Replacement costs are normally not that big an issue in workforce transformation.
Large consulting firms have armies of people dedicated to this work. Side note, they don’t have armies dedicated to upskilling the workforce or finding other ways for companies to save money. They don’t assign a formulaic value to loyalty. When I was at Chubb, people would say they “bleed blue.” At Exxon Mobil, the people had a very strong culture with people having many years of service. A few years ago, Exxon had a transformation that basically eliminated tons of jobs. The following year they had record margins. The costs of loyalty or lack thereof are not factored into any of this.
Companies ask for loyalty but many don’t show loyalty. The result is high turnover, and low morale but maybe that is ok. For some companies, looking good is actually of more value than being good. Many insurance companies run on a house of cards but you would never know it. The profits are great and the service offerings are decreased or diminished. The only people that would know this are the folks who’ve been with the company to know the quality of the service offering. Let us say that an insurance policy is like a Twinkie. At some point, someone just replaced the Twinkie with something that looked like one. They still sold them and down the road, people forgot what they used to taste like. For the newer generation, never actually tasted one. This is where the business has gone.
The reason for this post is to help those with unreasonable expectations of loyalty in business. We are as good as our perceptual value to an organization at any given moment. We need to understand how to commoditize ourselves and maintain loyalty and honor in our relationships with other people, not companies.
This can be a positive situation for companies and their people. If companies aren’t forced to set unreasonable and untrue expectations and people understand what they mean to a company given a moment in time, the end result can be a highly productive relationship. Imagine for a moment a corporate-run system that had a person’s performance value exposed to both a manager and that person. If the PV decreased over time due to perception or a lack of business or technological requirements, the person could see this value as a score. If the person had the ability to add other information on their own (like the things no one knows they do) they can potentially increase their PV. The truth is when consultant company X comes into companies evaluating people and performance, they have to guess.
If personal loyalty is a factor (which it may be), the performance value indicator will also expose this. The reason something like this is required is that companies are doing it anyway. They are just guessing though.
Companies generally speaking are not loyal to people. If we are open and honest about it and we set realistic expectations, we can avoid disappointment. We can be happy with the choices we make and employees who choose to leave companies can feel as indifferent about their choice as companies who cut employees for the sake of the business.
It may not seem positive but having an open honest approach to leading people is a positive thing. The only thing we should really be upset about here is .. the fact that some of us remember how the Twinkies used to taste.
For those who do…
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT A SPONGE CAKE?
Technically, a sponge cake doesn’t contain any baking powder or baking soda. Instead of those leavening agents, sponges get their airiness from lots and lots of whipped egg whites. There are many types of sponge cake but that airy texture is what they all have in common. And, as the name suggests, these cakes take well to being soaked with syrups.
- Quick Glance
- 50 M
- 1 H, 15 M
- Makes 12 Twinkie look-alikes
Want it? Click it.
INGREDIENTS US METRIC
- Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milk, preferably whole
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
- Seven-Minute Filling, er, Frosting
To make your shiny, single-use Twinkie molds, start with a piece of aluminum foil, preferably heavy-duty, that’s approximately 14 inches long. It should be just a little longer than it is wide. Fold the foil in half lengthwise, then fold it in half again to create a rectangle that’s about 6 inches long and 7 inches wide. Repeat to make a dozen rectangles.
Place 1 sheet of folded foil on your work surface, with the long side facing you. Place a standard-size plastic or glass spice jar on its side in the center of the foil, the jar’s long side also facing you. Bring the long sides of the foil up around the jar. The foil won’t reach all the way around, and that’s okay.
Fold the foil in around both top and bottom ends of the spice jar, nice and tight. You’ll end up with a sort of trough situation. (Cookbook author Todd Wilbur has a video of the process here; if you’re impatient, fast forward to 1:10, where the action starts.) Repeat until you have 12 foil Twinkie molds. Spritz the molds with an obscenely generous amount of nonstick spray or use your fingertips to coat the molds with vegetable oil. Place the Twinkie molds on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan.
Whisk the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Remove from the heat add the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.
Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or, if using a hand mixer or whisk, a large mixing bowl) and reserving the yolks in another bowl. Beat the whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of the sugar and the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the whites reach soft, moist peaks.
Dump the beaten egg whites into a large bowl and add the egg yolks to the standing mixer bowl—there’s no need to clean the bowl (or, if using a hand mixer or whisk, simply place the egg yolks in a separate large bowl). Beat the egg yolks with the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and a pale lemon color, about 5 minutes. Add the beaten egg whites to the yolks, but do not mix.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg whites and then mix everything on low speed for just 10 seconds (or, if using a hand mixer or whisk, until blended but not thoroughly combined). Remove the bowl from the mixer, make a well in one side of the batter, and pour the melted butter mixture into the bowl. Fold gently with a large rubber spatula until the batter shows no trace of flour and the whites and yolks are evenly mixed, about 8 strokes.
Immediately scrape the batter into the prepared molds, filling each with about 3/4 inch batter. Bake until the cake tops are light brown and feel firm and spring back when touched, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pan containing the molds to a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool in the molds.
Just before filling, remove each cake from the foil. Using the end of a chopstick, poke three holes in the bottom of each cake, just like in the bottom of real Twinkies. Wiggle the tip of the chopstick around quite a lot to make room for the filling. (Again, you can see this in action here, beginning at minute 3.)
Scoop frosting into a pastry bag fit with a small tip about 1/4 inch across. Pipe the frosting into the holes you created in the bottom of the cakes. As you fill each cake, hold it in your palm and gently exert pressure on it so you can feel the cake expand, taking care not to overfill the cake, which would make it crack.
Unlike real Twinkies, these won’t last indefinitely. They’re best served still slightly warm.