Loyalty: A Lesson for Startup Founders

What is happening to employer and employee loyalty? Call me idealistic, but there used to be a time when allegiance and commitment mattered. Today, businesses and even employees are more willing to shed previous ties in order to pursue the next lucrative opportunity.

Junior professionals, given tremendous leadership opportunities at startups that would normally require decades of service at larger corporations, jump ship in search of the next quick score without regard for the financial and career investment made by their initial employer. Do the founders deserve such a loose definition of loyalty?The value of loyalty to startups today

There’s never a clear cut rule to anything. Sure, sometimes you need to break free from early allegiances. Businesses may need to abandon suppliers or “fire customers,” and professionals should always assess their market value. I tend to think to myself when faced with such decisions: If I can live with it, I will make my decision, but if something feels off, I will take a step back and seriously re-evaluate before moving forward.

My track record is far from perfect. I’ve been burned by colleagues with whom our team has invested significant time and resources to elevate their individual performance, even when early indicators pointed toward us having made a bad hiring decision. Likewise, we’ve partnered with companies who dropped us without even the courtesy of a phone call. Imagine reading a press release that a partner went elsewhere instead of receiving a phone call from the company itself?

I’ve always been raised to never forget my roots. “Remain grounded and don’t forget whose shoulders you’ve stood upon to achieve your successes,” was a common theme embodied by my father, a serial entrepreneur who likened his customers and employees to extended members of our family. It’s not always about earning the most tomorrow, it’s about the long-term investment that we make in one another, and it’s about doing right by those who helped you achieve your status.

Hire slowly, fire fast, accelerate successes and failures, and do whatever it takes to excel.

Where do you draw the line?



  • Kevin

    There are two sides to every story. Communication goes both ways. Imagine working for a company and not being told you won’t be paid on time. Those workers aren’t as likely to be thrilled with this and stay loyal. It might also not be a good idea to tell the media that a translator appreciation program exists (rewards for referring their peers i.e. “referrals”) when it no longer does. How about employee bio pages listing possible favorable reviews that get removed without warning and no willingness to provide an explanation? How about providing a platform that has technical glitches resulting in lost productivity or features added that made working on tasks less efficient? How about having the rate at which you complete work reduced and not being told about it? It can be hard to stay loyal when you feel as though the company you work for does not value your time.

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