- What is valuable to you in a job is always a moving target, changing as your life circumstances change.
- Once you know what kind of job you are looking for, you can define your boundaries for current or potential employers.
- Evaluate whether demonstrating loyalty to this job—in other words, being a good citizen—aligns with your priorities and abilities.
Are you loyal to your employer? And more importantly, is being loyal worth it?
Loyalty to an organization today is the kind of loyalty you give to a customer. An organization gets exactly as much loyalty as they pay for, and it lasts as long as they keep paying. The real question for employees now is: What kind of payment is valuable enough for me to remain loyal to this organization?
What is valuable to you in a job is always a moving target, changing as your life circumstances change. What type of job are you looking for at this point in your life and career? These are the most common scenarios:
- Just a job. When you need a place to hide out and collect a paycheck.
- Weigh-station job. A job you take while you are taking stock and trying to figure out what you really want to do next.
- Peer-group job. When the benefit of a particular workplace is that it is a place to hang out with friends.
- Alignment job. A job opportunity that aligns with your deep interests and priorities.
- Tradeoff job. When a job is seen as an opportunity to work intensely for a defined period of time with the chance of a giant payoff.
- Needle-in-a-haystack job. When the value in a job is an unusual opportunity to meet an idiosyncratic need or want. It might be to work a very particular schedule, work with particular individuals, work in a particular location, learn a particular skill, do a particular task, or engage in some non-work activity on the job.
- Self-building job. This is the best case for both employers and employees. A self-building job provides a chance for you to make an impact while building yourself up with the organization’s resources. This type of job usually comes from a desire to learn, grow, and collect proof of your ability to add value.
Once you know what kind of job you are looking for, you can define your boundaries for current or potential employers. Ask yourself:
- What am I willing to sacrifice for this type of job, at this time?
- What am I not willing to sacrifice, under any circumstances?
Armed with this information, you can begin assessing the real questions: Are the benefits and rewards of being a good citizen in this organization worth the level of personal investment required? And does that amount of investment align with my boundaries?
Complete the following six-step exercise to evaluate whether demonstrating loyalty to this job—in other words, being a good citizen—aligns with your priorities and abilities, and to identify any potential gaps in your good-citizen score at work.
1. Consider the following definition of good citizenship: Accepting, embracing, and observing not just the rights and rewards, but the duties of membership/belonging/participation in a defined group with its own structure, rules, customs, and leadership. Answer the following questions:
- Why is this approach to citizenship in the best interests of the organization?
- Why is this approach to citizenship in your best interests as an employee?
- Are there good reasons to reject this approach to citizenship?
2. Consider the rights and rewards of being an employee in this organization:
- What are the rights and rewards which benefit you as an employee here?
- What does it mean to accept, embrace, and observe those rights and rewards?
3. Consider: What does it mean to be a good citizen—as an employee—in this organization?
- What are your duties as a good citizen, beyond “just doing your job"?
- Exactly how does a good citizen in this organization go about doing their job day-to-day?: Are there formal requirements? Are there informal requirements? What are the parameters among those who are considered good citizens? What should be the parameters of good citizenship in this organization?
4. Make a list of the duties of good citizenship as an employee in this organization. Now consider the list of duties, one by one. For each one:
- Can you think of examples of individuals exemplifying good citizenship by accepting, embracing, and observing these duties?
- What does it mean for you to accept, embrace, and observe those duties?
5. Go through your list of citizenship duties and define each with bullet points or short sentences.
6. For each citizenship duty, ask yourself:
- How are you doing personally when it comes to fulfilling this duty of good citizenship?
- Are you performing at 100%? If not, what percentage would you give your performance?
- Where is the gap?
- What do you need to do to improve?
- Are you willing and able to take the steps to improve? Why or why not? If there are any obstacles outside your personal control, how might your manager or organization support you?