That was when my finger refused to post the benign tweet. The simple, straightforward tweet about the Recruiting Trends panel discussion on social media, transparency and competitive advantage in the world of work, recruiting and human resources.
My finger rested right above the return key. And then before I pressed it I heard, “Well, at first I posted to my blog anonymously because I didn’t want my boss knowing I was writing about my vagina.”
Nervous laughter. Pins dropped. Uncomfortably shifting. Even the usually outspoken smarty pants blogging contingent hesitated. I know because I turned to look at them in the back row and they were frozen in place. Only for a moment, but frozen mouths ajar nonetheless.
The vagina quote came from a refreshingly candid and smart Meredith Soleau, a human resource manager at a mega car dealership in the heartland. Meredith is also a humorist who writes on her Life’s Crazy Joke blog. She’s inspired me to get back to my Get Off The Ground blog and inject some family funny alongside the elevate-life stuff. (Now that my career management book is almost done, I can thankfully do so. Hey, you can’t have it all, kids.)
Back to the panel discussion moment that hung in the air. To be clear, I was heavily influenced by my mom and my sister growing up. Now I’ve got the Mama (the affectionate name I call my wife) and two young daughters and am quite in touch with all gender-scapes within myself; I’m okay with engaging Va-JJ’s. Really. But based on recent conversations with organizations at conferences or on the phone, this literal and figurative metaphor of the unruly social world is all too real.
It’s social gone wild, it’s out of control, so organizations are still trying to figure out a way to control it. Not everyone should be allowed to shoot social from the hip, I get that. Personal responsibility and impulse control doesn’t come easily, if ever, to everyone. But I’d argue that most of us do know better, the employed and the contracted, or those looking to be employed and contracted, in this ever-transitioning and fluid world of work. We’re already out there across a vast network of online and face-time configurations — co-mingling, venting, joking, laughing, offending sometimes still (unfortunately), engaging, sharing, learning, discussing and developing ourselves and one another.
This is the new world of ongoing engagement and a huge opportunity for organizations. Creating continuous learning and development environs that encourage this kind of ongoing engagement around professionally relevant content across all “talent” populations — that’s what the orgs have control over. If an organization is looking to hire qualified customer service talent today and tomorrow, then they should share relevant customer service content that will help amplify the customer service talent, and do it in a way that their applicants can informally “skill up” at the same pace their recent hires, current employees or boomerangs do (who continue to do more and more on their own anyway). It can be done via local networking events, Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups, Twitter streams, other online professional networks as well as true talent community platforms.
Don’t be afraid to engage, especially when everybody’s already doing it. We’ll keep it pretty clean. We promise.