Has loyalty become obsolete in the workplace?

Cardinals Cubs

Let me start with this… I am not a Chicago Cubs fan! I have been a St. Louis Cardinals fan for nearly 60 years and there is one thing Cardinals fans do not do… they never root for the Cubs!

However, I do admire Cubs fans. Can you imagine going your entire lifetime never seeing your favorite team win the World Series or Super Bowl or Stanley Cup? The Cubs went over 100 years between championships, but their fans remained loyal. Their attendance was strong and their fans “fanatical” through all those barren years. They epitomized loyalty.

Loyalty used to be the standard, as well, in the workplace. Many individuals worked their entire lives for one company. And, companies rewarded loyalty. Companies stood by their employees through good years and bad.

Has loyalty become obsolete? I know of one individual that worked for his company for over 30 years. He was loyal to the company. During his last months with the company, he worked nearly every day leading his team through a challenging season of change. However, his company decided that a new direction was needed and cut ties with him. Instead of leaving the workplace with cake and punch and sincere thanks, he left quietly with only a severance package in hand.

Individuals, as well, seem to have little loyalty these days. I can’t tell you how many resumes I have reviewed over the years where the person has worked at 8 different companies in the last 6 years. Individuals, rightly so, have become aggressive in advancing their careers by changing jobs or companies.

Has the day arrived when employee or company loyalty should not be expected? What level of loyalty should we demonstrate? Loyalty is defined as a sense of duty or devoted attachment to someone or something. Loyalty is showing a commitment to someone or something to a higher degree than one might expect given the circumstances. For example, over the last 100 years, Cubs fans exhibited a sense of loyalty or commitment to their team much more so than one would expect given their lack of World Championships. I imagine that Cubs fans are much like Cardinals fans… it is less a choice you have made as it is a lifestyle you have been born or adopted into.

How much loyalty should an individual give a company? How much loyalty should a company give its employees? I believe the answer to that question comes in three parts:

  1. Loyalty should be given as long as necessary to fulfill a promise or commitment – If you have made a commitment, you must keep it. For example, if you promise to complete a project or program or fulfill a time commitment, you should remain loyal until your commitment is fulfilled. You might argue that this is not really loyalty at all. However, a promise is a promise by whatever name you give it.
  2. Loyalty should be given when one side has gone above and beyond toward the other – When one side has done something special or showered you with unmerited favor, they deserve a second or, perhaps, a third chance to earn your loyalty. Loyalty by one side should result in grace from the other.
  3. Loyalty should be given when one side has an extraordinary desire to see the other side succeed – There are times when you remain loyal simply because you want to see something through to the end or you might show loyalty to a person, despite the company. This is honorable.

When one of these circumstances has occurred, we have an obligation to remain faithful and see it through beyond what might typically be expected. On the other hand, when one side repeatedly demonstrates a lack of commitment to or fails to embrace “doing the right thing” for the other side, it might be time to move on.

I believe that loyalty still has a place in today’s workplace. Sometimes, as loyalty is exhibited, it breeds more loyalty from the other side. For example, there have been several companies destroyed by recent hurricanes in the Southern USA that have committed to continue paying employees even while their businesses are being rebuilt. Such a commitment often elicits a strong sense of loyalty in return from employees that benefited from these acts. Likewise, companies often demonstrate a second chance to employees that have provided extended and faithful service. Yes, there is still a place today for loyalty.

Have a great day! And, despite a rough season… Go Cardinals (by the way, winners of 11 World Series titles)!



The heart doesn’t lie


I have had a hard time lately getting an old Proverb out of my head:

“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” – Proverbs 27:19

This saying compares an individual’s heart to a mirror… it perfectly reflects the truth. Whatever you see in a man or woman’s heart, it defines them perfectly. There is no hiding the truth of a person when you see what is really in their heart.

So, that begs the next question, “What is a person’s heart? What should I be looking for? What things about a person defines the real person… their true character?” Of course, everyone has an opinion on character. Some say your character is who you really are when no one else is watching. Others say that your character is the way you think, feel, and behave. Still others talk about your character as a sort of moral compass which serves as your default mode regardless of the circumstances you face.

Certainly, all of these definitions of character make sense. Your character is what you really are. So, what are some observable attributes or behaviors that define character. If you had to develop a “character checklist”, what would you include? Likewise, if you wanted to assess your own character or that of your children, what tool would you use?

Following is a list of “character” attributes that can help define our true character. Of course, this is not a complete list. But, I have collected this list of characteristics that help me define a virtuous person… a person of character. This list is also a good way of assessing whether your children are developing a heart of virtue. I admit that this is not my own original list, but it includes contributions from many others and my own observations of people and behavior throughout my lifetime. In any event, here is my list of 33 “character” attributes:

  1. Gratitude – Does the individual express a genuine sense of thankfulness for what they have, what others do for them, and the blessings in life they have been gifted?
  2. Self-discipline – Does the individual possess the ability to get things done without nagging, urging, or threats? Does the person habitually fulfill their commitments?
  3. Willingness and ability to work – Does the individual do their share, especially without being told? Has the person learned the value and benefits from work?
  4. Hope – Does the individual have a sense of hope for the future and something on which to base that hope? Does the individuals live in the present and look forward to the future more than longing for or regretting the past?
  5. An attitude of service – Does the individual put others before self? Does the person seek ways and opportunities to make life better for someone else?
  6. Faith/Optimism – Does the individual live with a sense that “this could be their best day yet”? Does the person express an attitude that lifts others? Is the person confident in whatever the future might hold?
  7. Contentment – Does the individual have a sense of satisfaction in their life? Has the person learned the art of being content, yet without sacrificing a desire to improve?
  8. Desire to improve – Does the individual seek to learn from mistakes? Is the person seeking ways to enhance skills, abilities, and mind?
  9. Responsibility – Does the individual assume responsibility or accountability for his/her own actions? Will the person typically “do what they say they will do”?
  10. Compassion – Does the person truly care about others? Does their actions show a heart-felt compassion for the feelings and circumstances of others? Do their actions reflect this?
  11. Humility – Is the person allowing their actions to speak louder than their words? Do they downplay their own contributions while enhancing that of others?
  12. Perseverance – Will the person stay-with-it long enough to finish the task? Does the person finish what they start? Are they in it for the long haul?
  13. Joy – Does the person have a genuinely happy disposition? Has the individual learned to express joy even when circumstances are negative?
  14. Peace-loving – Does the person seek to bring about peace and consensus? Does the person diffuse negative circumstances?
  15. Generosity – Does the person willingly give sacrificially to others? Does the person seek opportunities to share what they have to make a difference for others?
  16. Kindness – Is the person kind to everyone in every situation? Does the person show the same level of kindness to those that can do nothing for them in return as they would for a VIP?
  17. Purity – Does the person strive to be faithful, pure, and “clean” in what he/she says, does, supports, and encounters?
  18. Courage – Is the person willing to stand up for what is right, even in the face of opposition? Will the person defend the defenseless?
  19. Trust – Can the person be trusted in all things? Does he/she trust others?
  20. Sense of self-worth – Does the person have a healthy understanding of their own worth to others and God? Does the person hold their head high or cower under pressure?
  21. Respect for others – Does the person appreciate and respect the opinions, abilities, backgrounds, skills, and personality of others?
  22. Mercy – Does the person express forgiveness and mercy frequently and freely?
  23. Justice – Does the person seek that which is right, true, and fair? Does the person stand up for those than cannot do so for themselves?
  24. Self-control – Does the person control their words, actions, and attitudes appropriately even when they are being mistreated?
  25. Honesty and integrity – Can the person be counted on to be truthful and honest in all situations? Would others name this individual if asked to name individuals with integrity?
  26. Willingness to submit to authority – Is the person willing to submit to others in authority over them? Do they respect their boss, their parents, and government officials? Do they reject rebellion as a normal response to not getting their own way?
  27. Love – Does the person willingly express love for others? Is this individual willing to freely express their thoughts about and to others?
  28. Confidence – Does the individual exude a sense of confidence in who they are and what they do? Will they look you in the eye when speaking? Is their handshake firm?
  29. Desire for excellence – Does the individual seek to do their best in all things, small or large? Does the person strive to do things well rather than cut corners?
  30. Desire to learn from others – Does the individual freely accept the teaching and counsel of others?
  31. Desire to develop and enhance relationships – Does the individual understand and appreciate the importance of connecting personally with others? Does the person seek genuine relationships rather than less personal social connections?
  32. Genuineness – Is the person the same in private as in public? Does the person express one persona with friends and another at work? Can you say about the person, “What you see is what you get?”
  33. Love for God – Does the individual know God and outwardly express a love for Him? Is the person seeking to know God more and better? Does the individual live in a way in which he/she seeks to please God?

So, what does your heart say about you? Does your life routinely express these “character” attributes? Are your children growing to be virtuous adults? Are you helping them to develop a virtuous character?

How we live matters. Our actions and behaviors don’t lie. They define who we really are and what truly lies without our heart.

Have a great day! Remember, this really could be our best day yet!

A contrarian’s approach for enhancing GXP compliance


Almost every day, a new approach for enhancing GXP compliance is proposed, espoused, or encouraged. Yet, our industry continues to experience problems with non-compliance. Some of these result only in adverse publicity for the recipient, though some result in potentially serious safety issues for consumers.

Is there anything truly new that can help us assess potential GXP concerns and, thus, drive compliance enhancement? Perhaps not. Nonetheless, I would like to pose a new way of looking at compliance that can possibly stimulate a new way of looking at these issues. I call this the contrarian’s approach to enhancing GXP compliance. You may have heard of contrarian investors… individuals that invest in companies experience bad news. A contrarian is someone that opposes or rejects popular opinion. In the world of compliance, a contrarian is not apt to automatically believe all the good audit reports they receive or the good inspection history of the site. The contrarian’s approach to compliance involves looking for bad news, not merely looking for what is going well. The contrarian asks the truly hard questions of compliance.

Let’s look at a few questions that can stimulate the contrarian’s approach. Ask these example questions of your team to generate alternative viewpoints of your own current compliance position.

  1. If we have a recall next week, what will be the issue that caused it? Could we prevent it today, if we knew it?
  2. If two individuals in your lab wanted to dry lab results, how could they do it given your current systems and protection of data? What would we have to do to prevent it?
  3. What will be the primary concern noted on the next Warning Letter your firm receives? Do we have to accept that this will happen or change we change the future if we act today?
  4. If your only job was preventing the next batch failure, what actions would you take today? What would you do if your job was literally in the balance?
  5. If an angry employee wanted to sabotage a batch of product by mislabeling a few units, how would they do it? Is it possible that one angry individual could destroy your reputation as a company?
  6. If someone wanted to hide your next stability (or sterility or environmental) failure, how would they do it? What systems have to be defeated for an individual to hide an undesired result?
  7. If an operator needed to make unauthorized and undetected changes to a manufacturing process, how would they do it? Can you devise systems to prevent it?

These are only example questions. You could develop your own depending upon your operations. However, the concept is simple… if you wanted to foil your systems, could you do it and, if so, how? Or, if something bad was going to happen, what would it be and could you prevent it now, if you knew it?

GXP compliance is much more than following a checklist. It involves thinking beyond the regulations and seeking deeper, more complex answers. When you actually believe all the good audit reports you get each month, you are failing to recognize the underlying potential for disaster that could await. Think about using the contrarian’s approach to identifying possibilities that until today have not been adequately considered.