The Risk To You When Loyalty Is Not A Two Way Street

I received a call this week from a candidate who was a little taken aback. That might be understating it. He might have been in a mild form of shock.  I’ll explain why in just a second.

I love recruiting sales and service people in the employee benefits field.  You have these jobs because, among other qualities, you have social skills. You’re fun to talk to!

There are a few of you, however, who are a little reluctant to engage. Usually, it’s the newer among you in the industry and I get it.  You’ve been given an opportunity, you’ve been trained and invested in and you feel a bit guilty if you show any signs of what you consider to be disloyalty.

Unfortunately, corporations, and to a slightly lesser degree, broker/consultants do not reciprocate that loyalty.  It’s not personal.  It’s just business.  They invest in you because you provide a return. As soon as you don’t, or as soon as there is a change in direction, or a need to cut costs, they do what they have to do.

The person I spoke with yesterday was part of a small national team of highly successful ancillary group reps. They had come from top 5 Life & LTD carriers where they had credibility with their underwriters and other home office staff, they had strong brands behind them and were succeeding at a top 10% level. (Code for I’m sure they were all earning comfortably over $400k).

They were told a great story by this very small, niche, company that hired them and they all had their reasons for trying something new.

They were told this week, out of the blue, that their division is being shut down. No prior warning. We’re done.  Turn the lights out behind you.

Some of them had taken this career leap of faith recently.

I’m sure there are all sorts of legal reasons why this approach had to be taken. The bottom line is the company did what suited the business.

The same thing happens in acquisitions.  There’s always overlap and the people who keep their jobs aren’t necessarily the ones who are the most successful. Most of the time it depends on who got the top job, and they get to pick their RVP’s, who in turn get to pick their managers, who get to pick their reps. There’s no guarantee you will stay employed despite possibly having a track record of years and years of exceeding goals.

So what’s the moral of the story?

  1. There’s no certainty in life
  2. Don’t be naive.

The relationship with your employer goes both ways. If you have good leadership, you’re learning, you’re getting opportunities, you like the culture, you feel appreciated, you’re fairly compensated, then you’re in a great spot. However, things always change. When a recruiter calls, shoot them a quick note to let them know you are happy where you are rather than simply ignoring them. At some point, engage in a phone call, so you have initiated a relationship with them before you actually need to work with them.

Occasionally take it a step further and listen to what the opportunity is.  The best time to look is when you don’t need to.  You’re more confident, you’re more discerning, you can take your time.  When it does come time to move, you’ll know how the current opportunity looks in comparison to others you’ve seen.  

If nothing else, you may learn a little more about a competitor and feel even better about where you are.