No Trust: When Your Employee Holds Back #socialsaturday
This week I have a fascinating and (I think) rare situation that is more-or-less the opposite of the dilemma we’d expect:
What happens when an employee does not represent his employment online?
What happens when a company hires someone who already has a well-established social media presence? An acquaintance, whom we’ll call Bob, shared his own experience with me, and I asked him if I could share it with the readers of Switch and Shift to see what they thought. So here are the facts as he laid them out for me:
- Bob was already a subject matter expert in an area not relevant to the company (“Acme”)’s field when he took employ there. (For the record, Acme is highly regarded in its field).
- Acme hired him to do work that was not related at all to social media.
- Acme required him to sign a strict non-compete agreement and also has an acquisitive Intellectual property (IP) contract that they amended for him before he began.
- Optimistic about his new company, but still a bit wary of their Legal department, Bob did not at first add Acme to his LinkedIn profile or mention them in any other online bio. He kept his day job and his online persona completely distinct.
- Bob’s hiring manager made perfectly clear that Bob’s own time was his own, so Bob continued with his previous area of interest on nights and weekends for several years.
- But the more Bob learned about Acme, the less he wanted to represent them online. For one, he was afraid that to do so would be to entangle him with the legal department at some future date. Secondly, as his initial optimism about Acme soured from experience, he just didn’t want to appear to endorse employment at this company.
- All the while, Bob built more of an online-following than every account representing Acme combined.
- Annually, Bob touched base with HR and Legal to make sure this arrangement was still working for all concerned.
- At different times, Recruiting and PR tried to get Bob to help (“for free,” he groused) with social, but Bob declined. He also tried several times to craft a job for himself leading Social within the company, but the company declined.
- Finally Bob left, disgusted with the top leadership’s “stunning lack of vision,” especially in regard to the treatment of its own employees, which Bob tells me was abysmal. I have verified this with multiple sources.
Bob and Acme went their separate ways months ago: Bob is now a freelancer in the field he was in before he started at Acme. He says he’s torn about updating his LinkedIn profile. On the one hand, he never wants to represent Acme, ever – he feels to do so would be seen by potential job seekers as an endorsement, and he “would never want to do that.” Anyway, he thinks it’s best not to represent Acme on LinkedIn or elsewhere until a year has passed and the non-compete contract he signed expires.
At the same time, he does not like holding anything back on his social “résumé,” as he calls LinkedIn. He has shared the details of this situation with about a dozen friends whose ethics he admires. Each one has assured him that he’s handled this correctly.
I’m dying to hear what you think – and if you’ve ever heard of this one before!
- Is Bob right in leaving Acme off his LinkedIn profile and other online bios, or is he misleading us? This is kind of the opposite of claiming you went to a college you never attended, isn’t it? Bob is abstaining from taking credit for something that would probably make him look more attractive!
- Have you heard of this before? Maybe it’s common, and I’m just out of touch.
- Will adding Acme to his bios and LI profile appear as a tacit endorsement of Acme? Will it help them build their brand or recruit the unsuspecting?
Let us know in the comments below. I’m at the edge of my seat, as is poor Bob!
Image credit: gigra / 123RF Stock Photo