What Would You Do About This Facebook Post?
BY Jeff Haden
An employee's questionable Facebook post leaves one CEO wondering how to react. Experts weigh in on how to handle this social media pickle.
Mark O’Donnell thinks he has a problem – and he’s not sure what, if anything, he should do about it.
Mark is the President of Azzur Group, a consulting firm that helps life sciences companies – especially major pharmaceutical companies – meet quality and compliance standards and comply with FDA regulations.
Recently an employee put a photo of the cover of the book Your Company Sucks on their own Facebook wall, titling the entry “Succinct.”
Now put yourself in Mark’s shoes. What does the employee’s Facebook wall post mean? Is it intended as a shout-out to the book’s author, Mark Stevens, for a catchy title? Or is it intended as a commentary on Marks’ company?
Or does it mean something else entirely? More importantly, what, if anything, should he do?
“I have two concerns,” Mark says. “One is fairly obvious. The employee’s Facebook friends include employees, customers and potential customers, and people who work in the industry. Since the post is so ambiguous, and doesn’t include any explanation or context, people who see it could definitely assume it refers to our company. That damages our brand.
“My other concern is that I don’t want to make a big issue out of something that could be nothing.”
I asked Suzanne Lucas, an expert on HR and employee relations, how she would handle this.
“My advice would be to ignore it completely,” Suzanne said. “The chances of anyone caring one bit about this are extremely small. The chances of this blowing up in an employer’s face by taking action are much greater. I’m solidly on the record for saying a company should be allowed to fire or discipline an employee for what they write on Facebook or Twitter, but I’m also strongly in favor of companies only reacting to the most egregious problems.”
What would I do? I would ask the employee to delete the post. No matter what the intent, others could take it the wrong way.
A good employees who meant no harm will immediately say, “Oh, wow, I didn’t think of that. I’ll take it down.” If the employee really is unhappy with the company, that gives us the chance to discuss what’s wrong and hopefully make a bad situation better.
Suzanne and I would take different approaches. I’m not surprised, partly because she’s smarter than me but mostly because while I’m sure there are plenty of wrong answers, I don’t think there is one right answer.
So what would you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
JEFF HADEN learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden