The big sports news this weekend is that Albert Pujols did not stay in St. Louis, but instead accepted something like $230 million dollars to change teams. I really don’t care about the Cardinals (when I care about baseball, I cheer for the Royals.) I do remember seeing Pujols play in Peoria, IL back in 2000/2001 time frame. At that time, he was playing in a stadium that is worse than a lot of high school stadiums. My wife and I payed $3 a piece to sit in the GA section (which was just some bleachers right behind 3rd base. So he’s come a long way.
As I drove around shopping for the kids’ birthday presents tonight, I heard lots of people on sports radio say that they couldn’t believe he left the Cardinals. Several said he should have stayed in St. Louis for less money because that was his team. Often they would call in to question his loyalty, saying he was just in it for the money.
What’s curious about this to me is that nobody is calling in to question the Cardinal’s loyalty. They had the chance to secure a deal with him before the last baseball season started, instead they jerked him around. They even had the chance to re-sign him after the season ended, but they didn’t.
But this post isn’t really about Albert Pujols, nor the Cardinals, and it certainly isn’t about baseball. How often do we take the view, either implicitly or explicitly, that we should be loyal at all costs?
I’m all for being loyal. In fact, if you and I bond, I will stick up for you, I will push for you, I will refer you to other friends and acquaintances, and I’m always appreciative when that’s reciprocated.
But one thing strikes me. If a company is not valuing you, or worse yet devaluing you, why remain loyal? We must remember that when times get tough, companies routinely cut hours, cut pay, cut benefits, or layoff people. If they’re publicly traded, then they must increase the value for the shareholders, and all too often, the individual employees just become cogs.
Sometimes employees, like athletes, act like spoiled babies. Other times, companies, like sports teams only care about the bottom line. It’s too simplistic to say that someone should have stayed or should have gone. Leaving a company should not be a decision that someone takes lightly, but at the same time, that doesn’t mean that an employee should blindly stay on, either.