Friday, August 15, 2008

Fired for a Blog?

Can writing a bad blog get you fired? I heard two stories this summer about one who was and one who wasn't. The one who was blogged about his organization's events, posting a picture of a group activity. Without names, client children's faces were in the picture. When management saw the blog, he was called into the office and fired on the spot.
The other person was going through an exit interview with his supervisor, giving back keys and cards. In the course of the interview the supervisor said that had he known about the employee's blog, he would have fired him long ago. The employee voiced concerns over management style and contradictions, in essence venting frustration. Is that fire-able? Is a blog a professional extension or does it belong in the realm of free expression?
This is particularly meaningful to me after bumping my head into some organizational walls. When I blogged about my frustration with institutional complacency and even ineptitude, I was reprimanded for being disloyal? I think bloggers must develop thick skin and be ready to pay the price of exclusion from loyalty groups if you dare speak out. But isn't that a core value of our country with both free expression and the third estate of the media, holding crown and church accountable?
I was asked how I would react if an employee of mine wrote disparaging things about my leadership style in his/her blog. What would I do? I think I would take a blog posting as an invitation to a conversation, respecting their right to disagree with a decision or style I take. Would it hurt our relationship and hinder his/her advancement? I guess that would depend on how the conversation went. In my encounter with an institutional leader, our good conversation about a topic led me to offer to delete the blog and post about good follow-up steps. I think both sides won.
I'd love to hear from others about the liabilities and limits of blogging on careers.


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