Chris Brogan wrote, "Bob -Then Next Chapter," this morning so I thought I too would do a follow up. Now we know that "Bob" was initially in interactive marketing and web design. Personally I think it's a bit his own fault for not fighting to stay in his field, although I'm curious what his new role entails and why he is not putting as much energy into it as he is into fighting for social media. Change can be good, true, but if it's outside of your passion or qualifications change is the worst thing in the world. I know.
I know a designer/programmer/seo person who was once hired onto a company primarily for design and seo/sem/social media. This person initially loved their role, the people, and thrived on the opportunity to learn new things. In this person's free time they constantly read about work related topics, blogs, and studied new ways of improving daily tasks. Unfortunately at the beginning of this self-starters tenure with the company another employee unexpectedly had to leave (for personal reasons unrelated to the company or this story). So people from another department knew that the person had experience in programming, not the persons strong suit, but loving a good challenge, the opportunity to learn, and wanting to always help out and stay busy the person happily said yes to adding this role to the person's long list of responsibilities. Before the other coder left, the happy interactive person studied with the other employee and read many books to improve what could be considered par skills. It worked, but the person still went to meetings for the other two departments, but people slowly stopped giving the once happy employee design and seo work, until programming was an all day every day task. In the long run, the company still benefited from ideas the employee had for the other two departments, but lost the employee in the short term because they utilized the wrong skills and burnt out the person.
My best advice:
- Know what you ARE and ARE NOT good at. Make sure your employers are also aware. (Preferably at the interview stages)
- I've even been hired and put into roles that I personally made a point to tell management I'm not good at, and need to stear away from (in my interview I brought this up). Sometimes even that is not enough, and so you just embrace whats coming to you, and probably put feelers out for good measure.
- Never stop learning, but study the most in the field you have chosen to work in, or in "Bob's" situation have been place in.
- Let your management know that you welcome change, but if it doesn't work out also make sure that you both have talked about a plan B (putting you back into a role or similar role that works for you.)
- This is where I am curious what Bob's new role is, if he was moved because he was actually bad at it in the first place, or because management doesn't want an employee directly representing the company through marketnig if said employee does not take guidance very well. Also why wasn't Bob trying more to get his old role back, before wrongly initiating strategy that wasn't his to initiate (especially without a department behind him to help or tools do the job at full force).
- It is okay to make friends outside of your department (and every company would probably agree), it's also great to share your knowledge and expertise (not on company time), but Bob probably should have thought ahead and not made his boss feel like he was trying to go out of his way to be sneaky with management. One thought for Bob, don't personally represent the company with your new found hobby. Instead, start a blog (again not in the company's name), still share ideas, it's not the company's place to tell you what to learn or share about in your free time as a hobby (unless said company made you sign an agreement not to freelance.. in which case I probably would have never accepted). At this point social media is not Bob's job, it's not something he should do at work, and it's not something he should do in his freetime as a representative of the company, but it is a passion and therefore an acceptable freetime hobby.
- Bob, put feelers out more then just Brogan's article, or accept your new role/fight to get your old one back.. although with recent reviews I'm guessing your company wants you as far from marketing or speaking for them as possible. Don't get me wrong I totally applaud your effort, you probably did more good for your company then bad, and you probably started something that could have been great for them. In the long run though, its not really our choice what voice our clients want to have, or how much connection they want to have with consumers.
An analogy for this might be comparing an interior designer to what Bob did at his company (although again I think in theory what he did was good, and that more people should do it with the approval of their client's or bosses... going directly against orders is not so good). Say we have an interior designer named Sally, and she has two clients Bob and Anna. Bob likes the cabin feeling, is very outdoorsy, likes manly plaid (but not red and black) designs, as well as his trophy hunting collection of deer heads. Anna on the other hand is very modern and enjoys brisk and bright feeling spaces, lots of open air, deep earthy tones mixed with bright warm colors, wants everything to be very organized and clutter free, with lots of stream lined furniture from pricy well knowed craftsmen furniture builders.
Now image that Sally laid out a plan of action for each client, and like HGTV implemented her ideas (without consulting her clients first), but unlike HGTV these people ARE expecting quality results that they get to help revise prior to contractors tearing apart their spaces. Once Sally and her contractors show up for day one, Bob greets Sally at the door expecting to go over her plan of action, but instead Sally trots in and begins removing furniture and accessories. Bob of course is in a state of utter shock by this and at once asks Sally to stop, so for the time being she does, but comes back when Bob is away from home only to begin again her unapproved strategy. Bob comes home and while he likes what she has started, is upset, and fires Sally. So Sally stops work, and leaves completely. This leaves behind a half completed interior design job, a confused client, and an unpaid Sally. Next up is Anna. Sally learned her lesson and this time consults with Anna with most of her ideas, Anna approves what she sees, only tweeking a few things on the design board. Happily Sally begins her new job, but neglects to check in with her client (like a good waitress even would do), and that makes Anna a little antsy. Anna is the one who hired Sally, and is also the one who makes all household decisions on design. Sally comes up with a couple more ideas, and instead goes out of her way and consults with Todd, Anna's fiance (who does not yet live in the same house). Todd likes all the new ideas, vetos some other ideas. In the end the home looks wonderful, but a few things are not Anna's style and by the time the house is finished her and Todd have broken up. Anna is very flustered by the idea of having her home have a few decorations and colors she doesn't like, and even worse hates the idea of having to keep the masculine new furniture that Todd picked out for her living room and bedroom. She tells Sally that she would have loved to have been part of the process a little more and would like Sally to replace the bad furniture, accessories, and repaint the walls that Sally had changed colors without her approval. Sally finally learns her lesson in customer service and completes the job with Anna heavily watching her every move. Anna ends up very happy with Sally's work and refers a couple friends, but warns them to micro-management Sally due to past experience.
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