Protection vs. Projection

It may be scary to think about it this way, but you, my friend, have a reputation.

You are continually building or validating that reputation, and you are being helped along in that endeavor by people all around you, often when you aren’t present to either confirm or contest the feedback.

I got this...
I got this…

Our personal information is out there everywhere. For the weak of heart, this means a reluctance to “participate” in a socially transparent world. That leaves two distinct categories for the rest of us:

  1. Protection-focused
  2. Projection-focused

Companies, for the most part, are not given the luxury of “choosing” to participate. If you have employees, you are participating, even if only by proxy. Whether it’s Facebook, CafePharma, or GlassDoor, there’s any number of avenues for the public to post information about your company & services. The assumption is that these public discussions will be of the negative variety, so the reaction of most companies is to “protect.” Tighten social media policies, carefully monitor and vet on-line discussions regarding the brand – generally living on the hope that negative feedback is held to a minimum.

That, my friends, is a poor man’s game.

It’s time for your organization to get off their respective heels, and choose to project their reputation instead. Granted, that can be a tough message to sell to an old-school mindset, so what’s a girl to do?

You can start by giving us an hour…Times are changing. Rather than view reputation sites as a threat, smart companies are learning how to use them to manage their employment brand, connect with candidates and make better hires. Instead of playing defense, companies are leading the discussion and encouraging the public to join in. If it sounds like marketing, that’s because it IS marketing. When you choose to be reactive, you tend to spin/explain/justify ~ similar to a boxer who is afraid to throw a punch for fear of exposing his jaw, you are instead brought down methodically with punches to the mid-section.

On July 30th at 2pm EST, Kris Dunn and Tim Sackett from FOT will continue their virtual bromance while discussing How Smart Talent Pros are Becoming Better Marketers – By Using Company Reputation Sites Like Glassdoor.”  

Employees talk. Future employees read. Why not start participating in the message? It’s less about control and more about brand projection – businesses are a consumer product, subject to the reviews and critiques of a highly interactive public that includes past, present, and future employees…and right now the businesses are playing catch-up.

Join us, your reputation may depend on it.

3 Dangers of Being Nice

You can’t help it, deep down you’re a good person. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it – people like you.

Be careful.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of situations where “nice” is completely warranted. But as a manager of people….don’t let “nice” blind your judgment. There are at least 3 specific situations where nice guys really do complicate matters:

1. Performance Reviews – No surprise here, I’m sure. It’s the end of the year, reviews are due, the Holidays are quickly approaching…who wants to ruin someone’s Christmas break? It’s amazing how many bets are hedged at year-end. Our memory becomes more selective, we become sentimental, and suddenly “Fully Meets Expectations” seems to be a perfectly reasonable rating for an employee whose performance was anything but acceptable. This, of course, leads to the natural consequence of….

2. Merit Increases – Nothing indicates the objectivity of a manager more than his/her respective spread in merit increases. Ratings, schmatings, if you want to modify behavior, use your carrots. Unfortunately, too many managers convince themselves that a merit increase is synonymous with “cost of living adjustment.” Merit increases are rewards – thus, they are most effectively used as a reward for your key performers. The dread some managers feel about the reaction of their poor performers can oftentimes result in an entirely different message to your top performers, i.e. “Everyone gets the same raise, performance doesn’t matter.” Don’t expect that message to be tolerated for too long.

3. Promotions – This one gets really tricky. How many times have you seen this situation play out? Internal candidates vying for an open management position (or otherwise elevated in title/scope/pay), a choice is made to offer someone a “chance” at the position rather than hire the most talented candidate? “Chuck’s been here 15 years, he’s bid on every management position, if we don’t give him this one, he’s probably going to leave.” From a 3rd-party perspective, it’s easy to see the faulty logic ~ you’ve just decided to promote someone based on a negative reaction they may have to being passed-over. Meanwhile the hot-shot HiPo candidate is rejected so the hiring manager can sleep better at night. (SPOILER ALERT: This decision will not only be bad for the promoted individual, it may impact the hiring manager’s future as well.)

It’s a real pickle, isn’t it? Nice, likable people are the fabric of successful teams, companies, and families. This isn’t a call to be less “nice.” It’s a call for leaders to make decisions that are fair to the people who may be more deserving. If a manager continues to confuse “nice” with “guilt-avoidance,” the end result will not be so………….nice?

God Bless Patriotism

I’m not what you would call a soccer “fan,” in the sense that I’ve never felt compelled (or skilled enough) to compete in the sport, learn its nuances, or even develop an allegiance for a particular club.

But there I am watching the FIFA World Cup…and it’s been wonderful.

And it is only partially for the game on the field.

If you watch any of the pre-game footage, you can’t help but smile. The Olympics take a back seat to the WC when it comes to unbridled patriotism.

EVERY country defies any pre-conceived notion you may have about them in the form of pure fanaticism for their club, and the players on the field reciprocate the love.

Watching the players sing their respective national anthem, is absolutely goose-bump material.

So as we approach the celebration of our own nation’s independence, I’m reminded again that “love of country” is not exclusive to the United States.

And I AM a fan of that.