A few days ago, I wrote Shut Up! You’re Helping the Customer, the story of “Bob” (not his real name), and what happened when he decided to take social engagement into his own hands on behalf of his Fortune 500 company. Bob’s back with some more to the story, and judging by the dozens of passionate comments, I thought you’d want to hear what else Bob has to say. (This installment was actually written by Bob)
Background/History of Bob
Bob would like to comment that many of those in the original post who left comments said they are unsure if Bob had tried to get his management to embrace social media before this latest incident happened. Bob wants to go back about a year and a half ago when Bob was relocated to where he is now. Bob’s job was moved to where he lives now because his whole department was relocated. Before Bob was assigned to the current role he is in now, he worked in the company for several years doing interactive marketing and web design work.
Bob loved doing this work. So, when Bob made the hard decision to uproot his family and relocate to where his department was being moved, Bob asked management in the department he would be moving to if he would be allowed to continue to do what he loved to do. They said Yes.
Two weeks before Bob and his family moved, he was told that they decided that Bob would be moving into a group where the work would be different from what Bob had been doing and far different from what Bob had experience in. Essentially, Bob would be doing work that was foreign to him. Bob decided that change can be a good thing and to give it a shot to see if this new role would be a good thing for him.
So, Bob took on this new role and over time, all of the things that Bob loved to do and had experience in were taken from him and given to a different group in another division. This did not settle well with Bob, but he kept trying to learn his new role even though he knew it was far different from what he wanted to do. Bob saw what the tools of social media could do for his company if management would only allow Bob and others to try new things.
Bob has been trying over the last year to get management to listen to the things he has learned about social media tools, but each time Bob brings up the words “social media” he is shot down by his manager and others. They tell Bob they realize the deep passion Bob has for this area, but this area is not in Bob’s job role and he needs to give it up and let others who are allowed to look into it do the suggesting of ideas, etc.
This hurts Bob since Bob has many years of experience in the web and just wishes for an opportunity to use what he has learned over the years to help move the company into new areas of social media interactions with customers. Bob is continually rejected for his ideas/input and Bob feels frustrated and shut down. At the same time, Bob is trying to find the passion for his new role and learning all of what it entails. It is tough as his current job is not in Bob’s areas of strength and what Bob really wants to do is contribute in the areas where he could contribute the most for the company if he is only allowed to shine.
Back to Where we left off with Bob Getting Ready to Have his HR Meeting
“I had the anticipated meeting with HR a week ago. In the room was my boss, his boss, and a representative from HR. The meeting started off with my boss explaining why we were there and that he had a list of things he wanted to cover with me.
The HR representative and my manager’s boss were there to listen in to the dialogue between my boss and myself and jump in when they felt it was needed. My boss started off saying that he felt my performance has been suffering over the last year and that my behavior has been a problem. It was asked of me why I did not obey my boss’s orders to stop engaging with the customers on the forum when told to do so.
I tried explaining that I realized I needed to stop, but I also saw that these customers really wanted to be heard and felt a greater connection to our brand by talking to someone who was with the company.
However, no one could see the value or opportunities to interact with these customers. All they could see was that I disobeyed an order to stop and that what I did was outside of my main job responsibilities and the “ownership of social media” belonged to another group. Over and over, I was told I was wrong in what I did.
I will admit that Yes, not listening to my boss and his orders to stop was wrong and for that action, I apologized. I was told by my boss that he had given me several coaching tips that I had ignored. That was strike two against me. I was told that I did not follow the “chain of command” in our department and went to other managers talking to them about ideas we could use to target customers using social media tools.
I guess I was out of line in doing that. I was told I should have went to my boss first to get his permission before proceeding to speak with others. I do want to note that I had talked about my passion and experience with the web and was rejected many times by my boss. So, in one way, I know if I went to him, I would not get very far from there.
In the end, I was told that my boss and his manager felt I had caused friction between our department and the group put in charge of social media since I had continued to interact with customers. The question I have is that if it was so wrong for me to do it and when I stopped, how come the group put in charge did not continue to speak with these customers. They had a great opportunity to step in and pick up the conversations. But, they did not. The ball was dropped.
At the end of the HR meeting, my boss and our department manager looked at me and said plain as day that I needed to stop talking about and sharing ideas/input tied to any social media initiatives. It was not my area and I need to stop now or face possible termination later. After the meeting, I had to write up a recap of the meeting and basically write out what I will do and will not do. This action in itself made me feel like I was a criminal.
But, I have decided to take the route of being humble and taking whatever actions come my way. My job is secure for now, but my hope and aspirations to be in this company for the long run have taken a direct hit to be honest. I know there is a company or job opportunity out there that is waiting for me and ready for me to lead them into the social media space. I still hope it is with my current company, but if not, I am ready to move on to where I need to go to continue my career path into the exciting area of interactive marketing/social media.
My year-end review will be done soon and I anticipate that it will be a bad rating, but I still press on and know that even though I have faced so many setbacks and persecution for some of my actions, I still feel it was for all of the right reasons – helping people. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with all of you. God Bless.
Stay tuned. I imagine Bob has one more chapter for us.
Photo credit, Here in Van Nuys