Editor’s note: “The Angel Connection” is a regular feature in WRAL Local Tech Wire. LTW asked consultant Bill Warner to share advice for entrepreneurs seeking angel investors and/or venture capital investment. He is chairman of the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum, an angel investor network with over 100 members throughout the Southeast.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – One of the biggest challenges chief executive officers face today, whether they run a startup looking for investors or established firms fighting to survive in a global marketplace, is establishing and maintaining loyalty among employees.

What CEOs need in order to avoid frustration over loyalty is a new view of loyalty and its meaning to employers and employees.

Few business leaders would deny the importance of organizational loyalty; perhaps fewer still believe they can achieve it the way they once did. After all, the lifetime contract and company “family” expired long ago, and your people, especially your best people, are more likely to display loyalty to their careers than to you, their employer.

Reevaluating Loyalty

Loyalty should not be viewed as a choice. Employees must be loyal to the company and what it stands for. Employees can give their employers 100 percent and provide great performance while furthering their own careers. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, especially when the skills that employees master to further their own career are also what the company needs.

When companies help workers acquire new skills that support their professional advancement, they often win those workers’ commitment and attract loyal new employees. Employers can also promote company loyalty by helping people grow out of their jobs into new ones within the company.

Resist Blind Loyalty

But even when you can’t retain talent, it doesn’t mean departing employees weren’t loyal. Indeed, another mistaken assumption is that loyalty has to mean "forever." Companies shouldn’t strive to keep all employees forever. You don’t want blind loyalty. The best situation is when both parties are benefiting. Wouldn’t you rather have a star performer for three years than a dissatisfied employee for life?

Employee loyalty does still exist, both for themselves and the company. While the employees are with you, they can be 100 percent loyal to the company. Just because an employee chooses to leave does not mean they have not been 100 percent loyal to the company up until the time they leave. To retain your best employees, align fulfillment of their career goals with the company mission.

About the author: Bill Warner is the managing partner of Paladin and Associates, a business consulting firm in the Research Triangle Park area of central North Carolina, and is the chairman of the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum, an angel investor network with over one hundred members throughout the southeast.