“Are you in love with your company?” – it’s complicated.

In this article here (Link), the author Kathryn Tecosky titles with “Are you in love with your company?” and their first sentence is “If you’re not, you want to be.” She continues her article with pretty agreeable arguments towards more engagement at work and how hating your job can make you sick. So far, so well known. The author is part of the Kotter group and as much as I usually like their content (and the rest of the article), this header really gave me pause.

My initial reaction was somewhat mixed and – I have to admit – leaning towards “no, I don’t, and I don’t want to”. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like my job, or Bayer, and I immediately started debating with myself – how could I say that I don’t love it? Maybe there’s cultural differences at work here. I’m German, and I feel other cultures use the word “love” a lot more frequently and in a broader variety of contexts.

But there is also this larger cultural trend of expecting employees to be 100% unquestioning behind the mission of their companies, and I feel like that is plain too much to ask. It also doesn’t fit with how I define love, it feels more like worship. I can love the people I work with, or the impact my work can have on peoples’ lives, while still being critical of other things that the company (or the people in it) do. My love for what I do is not without boundaries.

Just like any other relationship, work needs to be build on mutual effort from both employee and company. Then it becomes a sign of respect for an employee to feel safe enough to be critical, and that’s when real engagement starts to show – and isn’t that what this whole trend is all about, in the end? It might be beneficial to shift the discussion more towards how an employee and the company can grow together and less on how we make employees love their companies more. Just like in all other aspects, there’s no making anyone love anything.

After I had thought my way through all of this, I decided to read the rest of the article – and well, the author basically shares the same sentiment. The Kotter people are good people.