How to Get Fired Using Social Media #1111 – on Maturity
Oh boy. There are so very many things one can do to get fired when using social media, and we have documented many instances on this blog: you can insult your audience, insult the First Family, release confidential information, or be a complete arse as a CEO.
All of the above have the common thread of immaturity at their root – we discuss this quite often at Firestorm; indeed we have a Performance Maturity Rating™ scale we use when engaged with our clients, because “Maturity” is the right word.
From the Psychology Glossary:
“Maturity in psychology has little to do with age, but with the ability to react, cope and reason in an appropriate way for the situation. Maturity is learned through experiences and comes from healthy growth, just like a strong body….The way a person deals with a crisis or makes decisions are good clues about their level of maturity.”
Enter the most recent maturity fail of an employee of a non-profit organization named Living Independently Forever (LIFE). I was tempted to move this How to Get Fired entry to #1 as it is certainly the #1 failure of maturity in my book. Its current numbering however, will be obvious to many. The fail? Insulting those who served, and doing so on sacred ground.
A woman named Lindsey Stone and a coworker visited Arlington National Cemetery and generated a national controversy after she posed for, and then posted to Facebook, an exceptionally disrespectful photo taken at the site. The photo understandably went viral, and ultimately cost Stone and her coworker their jobs at LIFE.
I have struggled with this post. I think I understand that Ms. Stone and her friend thought this was a joke, and as such, I have tried to be forgiving of their complete lack of judgement. However, I have (as I believe should every US citizen), been to Arlington. How any visitor to this most sacred place could not be humbled is beyond me. I would not expect this behavior from a 9-year old child, much less two adults.
Aside from the pure crass behavior of these two people, is the impact to the good folks at LIFE, their former employer. LIFE, Living Independently Forever, Inc., is a non profit organization that provides supported independent living for adults with disabilities. They have sadly gained worldwide, unwanted attention for one, stupid, immature act by employees. LIFE received an onslaught of commentary and activity via their Facebook page and via other outlets, an onslaught that certainly required effort and attention that distracted from their primary work.
The Director of Living Independently Forever, Diane Enochs, told Boston’s FOX 25 that complaints came pouring into the organization regarding the offensive photo via telephone and Facebook commentary.
LIFE came under fire after people learned that Stone was on a company trip in Washington, D.C., and the photo was taken by a coworker.
LIFE issued this statment via Facebook, and it has almost twice as many “Likes” as people who “like” the page itself:
As stated, the employees were fired, but if in their place, would you know if that action is a legally sound position? The National Labor Relations Board has issued two recent rulings saying a company’s social media policy can be “overly broad” but also stating that social media postings are not protected under federal labor law. A post by an employee on a social media website may be protected by the National Labor Relations Act if it relates to working conditions, wages and includes concerted activity.
Bottom line? What does your Social Media Policy say? Do you even have one?
First, educate yourself and your company’s leadership on Social Media use and legal rights of such.
Next, remember that employees are brand ambassadors. They represent your brand 24/7. They must be cognizant and aware of this. They must be trained, and they must understand the rewards, responsiblities, and repercussions of use.
I once heard the comedian Jeff Foxworthy say something that has stuck with me: “If you’re not being humbled, you’re about to be.”
Toss that thought into your Social Media Training materials. Then, take this blog article and have a conversation with your employees – ask them what they think of the original post, the organization’s response, and the firing itself. You’ll find out a great deal about the maturity of your own policy, and that of your team.
If you need help exploring these issues with your employees, give us a call. That’s why we’re here. (800) 321-2219
Join this post’s author, Karen Masullo, Firestorm President Jim Satterfield, and guest Scott Cohen this Wednesday, November 28th at 2 PM EDT for a conversation on traditional and new methods of Crisis Communication. The Second Greatest Failure in a Disaster or Crisis – Failure to Train Employees.