To Whom are Your Employees More Loyal: Your Company or Co-workers?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Categories: Management

By Mark Tomalonis
Principal, WarehouseTWO, LLC

Suppose that your employees are faced with a situation wherein they have to choose whom to protect, from between these two choices:

  • A co-worker

  • Their employer (your company)

How would your employees prioritize these choices?  And why does this matter?

Consider these two scenarios:

  1. You have a co-worker who is deliberately acting to gratify his/her own needs but resulting in harm to your company or to other employees.  Examples might include theft, embezzlement, credit card fraud, harassment or physical harm.  Other employees are aware of, or are the target of, this behavior.

  2. You have a co-worker who is merely under-performing.  Nothing illegal, but still, exhibiting behavior that diminishes the value of that employee and the value that your company brings to your customers, suppliers and business partners.  Other employees are painfully aware of this underperforming co-worker.

Under either scenario, what action would your other employees take?  Would they treat each scenario similarly?  Would they act to protect the co-worker or your company?

Why Your Employees Should be More Loyal to your Company than to a Co-worker

Your company gives you a paycheck.  A co-worker does not.  ‘nuff said.

The Damaging Consequences of “I Don’t Want to Get a Co-Worker in Trouble”

If your employees are aware of a co-worker who is acting illegally or unethically, or who is putting himself/herself or others in harm’s way, and those employees have not brought this behavior to management’s attention, then your company has a greater culture problem than I can address here.  (Think “financial ruin” and “law suit”.  Go from there.)

A more likely situation is that your employees are protecting an under-performing co-worker.  In my experience, the most common reason for this is what I refer to as the “I don’t want to get a co-worker in trouble” syndrome.

Protecting an under-performing co-worker is detrimental to your company as a whole for many reasons, including:

  • Internal costs:  an under-performing co-worker produces less output and poorer quality output, and likely makes more mistakes.  The result is more re-work… usually handled by other, more capable employees.

  • External costs:  an under-performing co-worker who touches your customers, suppliers or other business partners is under-serving these business partners.  Do not give these business partners a reason to find alternative partners.

  • Lower morale among your employees: if a co-worker gets away with doing less-than-desired quantity or quality of work, why would other employees be motivated to work harder?  And if they do work harder, then why would they not be resentful?  And why would they not look for another employer?  The adage, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch” is apt.

The Benefits of Working with Quality Co-workers

Who does not want a staff of quality, motivated employees?  The benefits are many, including:

  • Your company will be more efficient, and thus, more profitable.

  • Your customers, suppliers and other business partners will get higher quality service.

  • Employee morale will be higher.

  • Employee retention will be higher.

  • Your existing employees will be more likely to attract their friends to want to work for you.

The First Step in Addressing an Under-Performing Co-Worker

There are many ways to deal with an under-performing co-worker.  Training, closer management and re-assignment are just a few.  (Oh, yeah.  There is termination too.)  The first step is being aware of the co-worker’s under-performance.  The most likely source of this awareness is from your employees who place your company’s best interests above those of the under-performing co-worker.

About the Author
After a successful career in sales and operations management in the wholesale-distribution industry, Mark Tomalonis is now principal of WarehouseTWO, LLC.  He amuses himself by writing articles such as this one, to help wholesaler-distributors execute their operations better.  Mark’s articles and tips are published in WarehouseTWO’s monthly e-newsletters.  Click here to subscribe.

About WarehouseTWO
WarehouseTWO, LLC is an independent “inventory-sharing” software tool created exclusively for durable goods manufacturers and their authorized distributors, and for any group of durable goods “peer” wholesaler-distributors, such as members of a buying/marketing group or cooperative.  To learn how inventory-sharing with WarehouseTWO can help your business, visit the WarehouseTWO website, or email