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Employee Loyalty and Conan O’Brien

Given everything that is going on in the world today, it seems trivial to write a blog about Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien.  And yes, let's face it people, this feud is trivial.  However, a colleague sent me an article on the feud from an HR/Talent Management perspective.  The article had some points way off base, but had a couple of good nuggets as well. 

Let me start with a few points that when I read, I said to myself, is this really where we are from a business and societal standpoint?

-Comparing the late night feud with a Yankees pitcher is ridiculous.  For starters, the pitcher's contract was up, the Yankees just chose to not re-sign.  NBC has a contract with Jay and Conan, the two situations are not comparable.

-"Jay, Conan, and Hideki are each corporate assets who represent a revenue stream to their organization."  I have been preaching for years that companies need to treat employees as an asset, their most important asset.  By that I mean, they need to make sure they are managed correctly and treated like people.  I did not mean that you view employees as an asset like a computer or a desk. 

-"…the harsh truth is that it's not personal — it's just business. "  This is a big pet peeve with me.  Yes, it is just business but businesses are built on the backs of the employees.  If you treat employees like this, the business will ultimately crumble.  Try telling that to Conan right now?  Or just tell anyone that has recently been laid off, sorry, it is just business, good luck feeding your family though.  It is that short-sighted attitude that is a reason why employee loyalty remains extremely poor and employees are the least satisfied they have ever been in their jobs in the past 20 years. 

-The author claims we are being naive if we believed NBC was actually going to keep their promise and let Conan keep the late night spot.  Now I think the authors point here is the business landscape can change over time and thus it is difficult to make promises about future positions.  However, when did believing and trusting in someone's word make one naive?  Have we come to the point in society that I cannot trust anyone on their word?  I recognize we need to be cautious and there are many out there who cannot be trusted (yes I am looking at you Lane Kiffin) but what happened to keeping ones word? 

Now, I actually like his three points on talent management.  I am not going to copy them here but those were decent business practices and you can go back to the article for those. 

Maybe I am just a glass half-full kind of guy, but I believe people when they make a promise (until proven differently), I believe companies can be successful by showing they truly care about their employees, I believe if a company truly treats its employees as an important asset and providing training and development, career path, great work environment, etc. companies can and will outperform their competitors.  Maybe I am the one being naive. 

Just to note, if you want to read a great blog on this feud with a customer focus spin, check out the blog my colleague Melissa Meier wrote. 

About the Author

Chris Woolard

Chris Woolard

Chris is responsible for the sale, design, implementation, account management, and consulting for his clients’ employee and customer assessment programs. He focuses on employee loyalty consulting and is considered Walker’s employee loyalty expert. He has worked with many companies on customer due diligence solutions.

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