Does loyalty generate disrespect?

June 18, 2019
Does loyalty generate disrespect

Does loyalty generate disrespect? The title seems a little bizarre, doesn’t it?

Attrition of a loyal client

I was participating in a Leadership meeting of a midsize Financial Services organization. I support them as a consultant focusing on their People and Process dimensions.

We got on to a serious discussion relating to the attrition of a large and loyal client. They had been doing business for the last 5 years.

The Leadership team was stunned.

In the ensuing discussion, I realized that the organization had been taking this loyal client for granted.

The organization was in a phase of blistering growth and it had got its smart Customer Relationship guys focusing on building relationships with new and prospective clients. These guys drew up a list of prospects, split the prospects among themselves and met them with great vigor and enthusiasm.

‘They are not going anywhere’

While services were being provided to this loyal client regularly, no one had visited the client for quite some time. From a relationship standpoint, the loyal client was clearly off the radar. However, the CEO had felt that the client’s contract renewal was a given. He had quite recently remarked to his team, ‘they are not going anywhere!’

I wondered if the client’s loyalty had, quite strangely, begun generating disrespect for the client within the organization. Perversely counterintuitive, wouldn’t you think?

In careers, does loyalty generate disrespect?

It set me thinking. Looking back at my career of over 35 years, I felt that the same phenomenon of loyalty generating disrespect is not unusual.

A recent call reiterated this for me.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from an old friend. We had been colleagues at one point. We got talking. While I had moved around, he has been in the same organization for over two decades. He now wore a gold name tag – one of the loyalty rewards for his long tenure. He has been a high-performer at work performing diverse roles inside the organization.

Last year, at work, he suffered a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital where he underwent heart surgery. While he was recovering, his manager dropped in at the hospital. The manager was a relatively new addition to the organization. After checking on his health, the manager began throwing hints at my friend regarding his future career prospects.

‘Do you think you will be able to continue?’

‘It is getting too stressful for you, isn’t it?’

‘It is, probably, time to take a break. What do you say?’

Initially, my friend thought of these questions as signs of genuine concern. However, when the manager continued to visit him at the hospital and pursued the same line of questioning, it dawned on my friend that he was working on an agenda.

Thankfully, due to the timely intervention of the CEO who had known my friend for a long time, the manager backed off.

When my friend was speaking to me, I was thinking, does loyalty generate disrespect? If yes, why does this happen?

5 reasons why loyalty could generate disrespect

  1. You are no longer valuable, you have become expensive. I have dedicated a full post on this subject. Read it here.
  2. If you stick around for too long in an organization doing pretty much the same thing, people think you have nowhere to go. You are then treated as an immovable piece of old furniture, boring and uninspiring, perhaps.
  3. When it comes to a career, it cuts both ways. Loyal employees also begin taking the organization for granted. Then something shifts but they are too complacent to notice it. They refuse to see the writing on the wall. Read my post on this topic here.
  4. You have stopped learning. You are using the same old technology to cater to the new demands of the organization. The technology obsolescence is showing.
  5. There is a wide ‘generation gap’ between you and the newer employees. This gap could appear in the way you look. It could be in the way you treat the newer employees or in the way you seek ‘entitlements’. You could be hanging out with the ‘same generation’ colleagues. The newer employees see this ‘generation gap’ even if you don’t.

My Quote #51 says, ‘With time, dust collects on everything. Every now and then, shake off the dust.’

When it comes to a career, it appears that loyalty and disrespect actually run a parallel course together. The day they meet, our career is at peril.

The client sent a Contract Termination Notice to this Financial Services organization.

Let this not happen to your career.


If you wish to protect and grow your career, you must renew and reinvent yourself. Time is of the essence.

I work with senior professionals to help reinvent themselves. Many of them reach out to me in their individual capacity through my website. Write to me at [email protected]

Reinvent yourself. Your time starts now.

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