Loyalty for the Coming Fiscal Year
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Loyalty for the Coming Fiscal Year<br> By Marc Porter Zasada <p> Once upon a time, I understand that corporate loyalty was a two-way street. You made a commitment, and they offered you a career. It was a kind of mutual compact. But now that large companies make no promises, even to the people in the corner offices, how do they create loyalty in return? <p> The secret, of course, is brainwashing. <p> One day, while working innocently at his day job, the Urban Man finds himself abducted and taken to a remote business-class hotel. I know little of my whereabouts except that we are near exit 15, a few miles north of a major airport in a southern state. No barbed wire surrounds the hotel, but also no sidewalks and we have been told: forget about renting a car. <p> They used to hold these annual management retreats at beach resorts, but then people were tempted to visit the beach. This afternoon, past the parking lot and the exit ramps, I can see one palm tree and a Taco Bell. Inside, however, there's a certain budget-conscious elegance: a chandeliered restaurant, a hushed carpet, and a large piece of abstract art. We speak of tennis even though we have no time for tennis. If you aren't in the ballroom watching Powerpoint shows, your job is to hang out in the bar. <p> There are 150 of us at this retreat. Over four and a half days, the bar will serve us exactly 5,580 drinks. If you do the math, that's an average of 9.3 drinks per person per day. Combined with sleep deprivation, it's a potent technique. <p> The first night, in a four a.m. haze, I watch the CEO chatting with the troops. He's something of a celebrity, and looks dapper at any hour and after any number of drinks. I figure that's how he got to be CEO. Come his 8 a.m. keynote, I know he will be still be optimistic. <p> Our goal this week is not merely to separate ourselves from spouses and sunlight. No, we are here to forge "personal motivations for company success." In the afternoon, actual games have been organized: <p> Eight managers stand on a log. With the help of his mates, each must squeeze pass the others and get to the other end without falling off. Ten managers stand in a line, and we are asked to pass an apple without using our hands. Brotherhood and body odor add to the bonding effect. Come midnight, there's volleyball in the pool. <p> The message: "These are real people -- your daily family away from family. Give in to their fellowship. Meet their quarterly targets. In fact, offer the company your loyalty. In exchange, we offer nonstop drama, fine dinners, and much free alcohol. Yes, you could be laid off at any moment. Yes, your job could be off-shored tomorrow. But meanwhile, give, join, drink.- <p> At first, the Urban Man hangs back. I manage to fall off the log early. During "pass the apple,- I slip out of the room. At midnight, I explain to skeptical co-workers that I am too inebriated for volleyball in the pool. "Go on without me,- I say. <p> But come the last long night at the bar, and well into the wee hours, I finally get my ten minutes with the CEO. <p> Unlike me, he's still fresh: his sport coat pressed, his gaze wonderfully clear. He asks about my kids. He sympathizes with my challenges. He coaches me on getting the sales staff interested in my initiatives. He looks me straight in the eye, and suddenly, in the midst of all the noise and chatter, I know that I matter. <p> In the end, that's all it takes. Half-asleep, but richly fed, boozed and bonded - I offer the company my complete loyalty for the next fiscal year. <br> Copyright - 2005 Marc Porter Zasada. All Rights Reserved.<br>
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