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Why Your Company Wants To Marry You. . And Why You Should Say No

March 19, 2015

Desmond Mason was the richest guy I know who ever got sucker punched by his boss. He was a basketball player. He was chosen in the first round by the Seattle Sonics. They promised that he was the future of the franchise. Desmond got married a couple years after he entered the NBA. I consider he got married twice. First to his wonderful fiancee. That wedding happened in Hawaii. While there, team officials made their pitch that they were planning to offer Desmond a long-term contract. They loved him and really wanted to formalize their long term relationship.

They wanted to get married. And the groom went for it. 

He bought the house next to mine and did major renovations. He started a local charity bowling tournament (Bowling?) He integrated himself into the community. 

Imagine his shock when he was unceremoniously traded to Milwaukee? His boss didn’t even have the guts to tell him personally. The person who had promised him a long term home let Desmond find out by watching Sportcenter. I got to talk to Desmond about 6 months after his trade. We were both getting ready to sell our houses. 

How’s Milwaukee?

It’s alright. I’m in an apartment downtown. 

No house?

No, ownership really wanted me to buy a house. I said, “Let’s talk after the long term contract is signed.” 

Fool me once. . .

Your company wants you to commit to a long term relatinship. They want to marry you. How do I know? Because I’ve been on both sides of the table. 

When I was running RESMARK, I had a really limited budget. I hired programmers that were going to make A LOT of money in their careers. I caught them early in their professional life and was able to hire them for way less than they could make somewhere else. Since I couldn’t compete on salary, I worked on two other aspects of work/life. 

First, I played up the “fun” factor. I gave all my employees a $100 radio controlled car for Christmas. I brought in micro RC cars and let them play. We had a “Snow on the Mountain” contest. 


Our office had an excellent view of Mt Timpanogos. The employees got to guess what day in the fall the last of the snow would be gone. The winner got a video iPod. We offered free drinks. (No, not that kind.) When you were hired, you got to pick your favorite beverage and we’d stock it in the company fridge. All you wanted. Ironically, most of my programmers wanted a literal water cooler. (Great, they get what they want and it’s cheap.) 

The second thing I did was to try to instill a sense of loyalty, a sense of family. We were writing rafting software. I visited our beta sites and brought back logo’d t-shirts for every employee. I put some on the wall that represented the different rivers in the US. 

I talked about how we were doing something that hadn’t been done. I talked about “the journey.” I let them know that I trusted them and I was depending on them. It might sound like I was calculating and devious. Yes, to the first. No to the second. I absolutely was trying to build loyalty. I wanted them to think of RESMARK as not just a job, but an adventure. (Oh yeah, I stole slogans when they worked!) 

But, I wasn’t devious. I was completely open with my staff about what I was trying to do. They may have been new to business, but their BS detectors were working just fine. I needed them and they knew that. But, human nature is a funny thing. People will often rise to the level of your expectations. The fact that they knew I needed them was actually one of the reasons they stayed. 

So, if companies are so interested in marrying you, why should you say no?  

Because a company can’t have loyalty. A company doesn’t have feelings. A company is a collection of people getting paid to do a job. 

Don’t misunderstand. I’m a big believer in working hard. Give your employer your very best work. Even go above and beyond what is expected. But, realize at tyhe end of the day, The company’s goals are exactly the same as yours: To make money. Don’t lose sight of that fact. 

Because after all, over half the marriages end in divorce. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 
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