Hey baby, I need loyalty
If you’re a woman imagine working for a large company. (If you’re a man, imagine your daughter, wife or girlfriend working for a large company.) I began working at the company as the new CEO. I call you up and invite you to a company dinner. When you arrive at the restaurant, expecting to see coworkers, there’s only me sitting at a table by myself in a private room. My eyes track your bustline as you sit down.
Even though you’d assured me on two prior occasions that you wanted to continue working at your job in the department you worked, I ask you if you’d like to continue working at my company. In between sips of wine I say, “You know there are a lot of people who would love to have your job. If you’re not happy with the job I wouldn’t blame you if you left.” After you again assure me you’d like to continue working in your department, my eyes dip to your chest and then we lock eyes and I say, “I need you to work closely with me. I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” We continue eating and chatting. While we have dessert I tell you that I’m glad you’re staying on the job and that I’ve heard good things about you.
But I again say, “I need loyalty from you.”
We finish dinner and you work the next couple of weeks. One day, while you’re heading to your car after work your cell phone rings and it’s me. You answer thinking there’s something job related I need to discuss with you but instead, I just ask how you’re doing. Just chit chat.
A few days later you’re among a half dozen coworkers in the conference room with me as we’re discussing a business matter. After the meeting ends, I ask if you would stay for a moment and for everyone else to leave. While people file out, the COO of the company lingers by your chair and I tell her that I need to talk to you alone. She leaves. Lastly, my son-in-law, an assistant vice-president stands nearby. I instruct him to leave. He closes the door behind him.
“I want to talk to you about working more closely with me. Every so often we have business meetings out of state. I was hoping you could accompany me on one of these trips,” I say.
You say you have kids and responsibilities and you don’t know if you could go on a trip. Just then, the door opens and the CFO sticks his head inside. I wave him off telling him we’re finishing up something here. He closes the door.
I continue, “As I was saying, I hope you can join me on one of these trips. I hope you can go. It doesn’t have to be all work. We can have some fun. It would be so nice if you could come with me.”
Weeks pass and you’re at your desk in your office working when your phone rings. It’s me.
“You know, as I told you it would be so nice if you could accompany me on an overnight trip. I’ve been on several since then and I think you could really be an asset if you went with me on one. Are you working on arranging to go with me?”
You tell me you’re working on it. I tell you that your assistance would help the company. “Growth has been sluggish. I need fresh ideas. It’s like there’s a dark cloud over this company and I think you coming with me on a trip would really help me relax and find my way out of this funk.”
We hang up and you go back to work. Two weeks later I call again.
“I haven’t heard from you and want to know if you’re going to come with me on a business weekend. I’m under so much pressure in this job that I think you could really help me out. If you and I go away we can focus and get this cloud out from over the company.”
You tell me that you’ve been trying to figure out childcare as well as who could cover your department. Then you suggest that I take someone from accounting with me instead.
I sigh and say, “You know, I’ve been very loyal to you. Very loyal. We had that moment together, remember?”
We hang up.
A month later I fire you. The official reason is a work-related screw up you committed nine months earlier. As you’re filling a cardboard box with personal items from your desk you can see me standing with the COO down the hall and you can hear our conversation.
“Yeah, I prepared the memo talking about how she messed up last year,” I say. “But you know, at the time I thought about firing her I was thinking she never wanted to go away with me.”