Hiring a hitman? Now that’s extreme employee loyalty.

Posted August 9, 2010 in Communication, Latest News & Insights

Well, this post is one for the bizarro-files.  For the past few years, many organizations have been wringing their hands about the rapidly declining sense of employee loyalty (gee, I wonder why?).  Maybe we need to send a team of management consultants over to chat with Harold Gerstel (aka Harold the Jewelry buyer) to see what he’s putting in the water over at his little shop.  One of his employees was so fired up, she allegedly hired a hitman to knock off a competitor!  Now that’s employee loyalty to the extreme.

In case you missed this bizarre little drama, 71 year old Maria Konstan, a long-time employee of Mr. Gerstel’s, is facing charges after a Toronto jeweller went to police claiming an employee of a competing cash-for-gold business had hired a hitman to kill him.

Yikes!  One has to wonder what types of pep talks Mr. Gerstel is giving his employees that would cause Ms. Konstan to morph from a mild-mannered shop assistant to a Soprano’s wannabe. 

Other than a bizarre (and definitely sad situation for all involved), what’s the leadership takeaway for the rest of us?  My thought is this:

As leaders, you can have more impact than you’re ever aware of and, as such, you need to be careful with how you use your power and influence.  Your actions are always under a microscope and you may never know how people may interpret some of the things you say.  And this is true whether you’re a front line supervisor or the CEO.

Nobody said leading was easy.  Proceed with caution and caring and, above all, recognize your ability to make an impact.

Happy leading!


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  1. moravecglobal says:

    Loyalty effect? Not!
    Public and private organizations are into a phase of creative disassembly where constant reinvention and adjustments are constant. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are being shed by Chevron, NUMI, Wells Fargo Bank, HP, Starbucks etc. and the state, counties and cities. Even solid world class institutions like the University of California Berkeley under the leadership of Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer are firing staff, faculty and part-time lecturers. Estimates are that the State of California may jettison 47,000 positions.
    Yet many employees, professionals and faculty cling to old assumptions about one of the most critical relationship of all: the implied, unwritten contract between employer and employee.
    Until recently, loyalty was the cornerstone of that relationship. Employers promised job security and a steady progress up the hierarchy in return for employees fitting in, performing in prescribed ways and sticking around. Longevity was a sign of employeer-employee relations; turnover was a sign of dysfunction. None of these assumptions apply today. Organizations can no longer guarantee employment and lifetime careers, even if they want to.
    Organizations that paralyzed themselves with an attachment to “success brings success’ rather than “success brings failure’ are now forced to break the implied contract with employees – a contract nurtured by management that the future can be controlled.
    Jettisoned employees are finding that the hard won knowledge, skills and capabilities earned while being loyal are no longer valuable in the employment market place.
    What kind of a contract can employers and employees make with each other? The central idea is both simple and powerful: the job or position is a shared situation. Employers and employees face market and financial conditions together, and the longevity of the partnership depends on how well the for-profit or not-for-profit continues to meet the needs of customers and constituencies. Neither employer nor employee has a future obligation to the other. Organizations train people. Employees develop the kind of security they really need – skills, knowledge and capabilities that enhance future employability.
    The partnership can be dissolved without either party considering the other a traitor. Employee loyalty to management is dead – get used to it.

    • LeaderTalker says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The title of this blog is a little tongue in cheek… the situation was so bizarre, that it made me wonder what the heck was going on. On the ral topic of loyalty, I agree with your comments completely. Although, in my experience, loyalty to management isn’t necessarily dead… it’s more like “just in time” and only happens when the situation is win-win. If the balance shifts in either direction too heavily, it’s over. Loyalty in my co-hort (GenX) is mostly about “what am I learning/doing here that makes me more marketable so that I can look after myself when the axe falls”. Blind loyalty got torpedoed in the mid-80’s for my generation (in my humble opinion). Unfortunately, as you point out, the vast majority of organizations are structured around archaeic processes that haven’t kept up with the times. Seth Godin and Dan Pink were two authors that were way ahead of their time around this changing trend. When I read Free Agent Nation in 1999, I knew that Pink had hit on something that was building in terms of people’s willingness to blindly put their trust into “Ma or Pa” corporation. I think, in many ways, building “loyalty” all comes down to having better conversations with people and, as leaders, doing your best to align what they want/need out of a job with what you want/need them to be doing. Sometimes that will work and other times it won’t and both parties may need to move on. Really appreciate you reading and adding your voice to the community.