Social media is great, but some people need to learn to use it to complain as the last resort, not a first resort. This was brought home to me very personally in the last few days. Without knowing it, an individual went on social media and in essence attacked me. An unprovoked attack with no warning. I am not even sure the individual realised what they were doing. I suspect they thought they were attacking a large, faceless organisation. They weren’t.
How it started
A recent comment about a professional group I am involved in by a “senior” leadership professional in a dedicated blog post:
“Thank you <org>, you made me shake my head and smile and provided me fodder when I tell stories on the speaking circuit.”
A curious threat when the individual could not be bothered to engage! This was in a piece called:
“My Experience of <org> Not Impressively Representing the <profession> Profession”
It is one example I will also use when senior change agent & “leadership expert” cannot be bothered to read instructions or engage with stakeholders. It is easy to blame other for your own mistakes.
The individual who claims “I am a full-time executive in the HR, talent and leadership development field”, (His LinkedIn profile says he is “Chief Talent Officer; Corporate Vice President; Executive Committee, Board Advisor, Leadership Author and Speaker” ) attempted to join a group on LinkedIn. That group clearly said what it’s joining criteria were. Clearly, the individual did not read this, nor did the individual meet the requirements. On LinkedIn, some groups are for invited members only, others for wider connections.
The individual commented:
<org> twice now has not yet accepted my admission to their LinkedIn group. I now have to send a third message to someone else to basically state my case for joining. Forget it, <org>. You lost someone who could and would have gladly contributed with the right spirit to help the <profession> profession forward.
This makes me wonder what people inside companies must think of <profession>
Basically, twice the individual FAILED to read the emails and failed to read the group description. If this is the approach the individual makes, would YOU want them consulting or working in YOUR org?
His rant progressed
He went on to say:
Here is my background which <org> does not seem to be taking into consideration even after my reply to their first response asking me why I should be considered a member of their linkedin group (I really apologize for listing these and I don’t mean to be presumptuous but I hope you understand I am trying to make a point):
The responses are automatic and they clearly say that, so why he is making such comments is a little strange! He lists lots of “job titles”, the author of 2 self-published books (haven’t we all done that? – links to my 2 books on Amazon 😉 ).
Not one qualification or proof of underpinning knowledge. In addition, it was not the org that set the criteria, but me the group owner!
What happens when you are not an alumni?
Quite simply the group requires people to be a member of a professional body to gain access. This individual seemed to think they were above such things. It’s much like university alumni. If you did not study at an establishment they will not recognise you as alumni.
Curiously, he was offered the opportunity of putting an exemption case to the group owner but refused to do so. Had he have been humble enough he would have been granted access. Alas he chose to rant in public.
A show of real colours – not all leadership experts can lead.
We can all claim to be change agents or leadership experts. But in reality, we need to understand the culture and politics before we get anything done. This individual claims to be in this field, but failed to read the culture, and failed to engage with stakeholders of the group concerned. The group has policies and procedures much like any organisation. You cannot change them from outside with a sledge hammer. It’s best to work inside and build momentum. Yopu may not like the policies, but that does not mean you ignore them. learn to work with, not against them.
What does this person do with clients and employers? The same?
A word of warning
Before you rant online always follow ALL the customer service channels FIRST. You never know, it may be YOU that is wrong, not the organisation you are talking about!
I had recently the need to post negatively about a customer service experience. But I only did do AFTER contacting their customer service team, after asking for the issue to be escalated. It was only when that process failed that I had to resort to going public and naming the org.
The result of this was that the play-out was read by the customer support team, and it provided an insight they would not otherwise have had. It resulted in a positive outcome for both parties.
As a sanity check to this, I posted in the said group a request to members. I asked was the individual right? Should we open the group to other relevant professionals? The response was huge. More than 10 times the normal number of comments on a discussion. Simply put they thought the individual was an idiot and disrespectful. they also wanted the “exclusivity” and trusted environment to be maintained.
So I have to thank the poster of this piece that criticized our group policy, for the big outcome for me was a level of cohesiveness among the existing members. Several people commented that they read a lot but do not usually comment. For this they came out of the woodwork – thank you!