We’ve all made mistakes in our careers. Little slip ups where we accidentally reply to all, or mix up Twitter accounts a la Chrysler’s agency’s recent flub. But we learn from those mistakes and usually we’re not fired for them.
However, when Marc Jacobs’ intern had a meltdown live on Twitter on his last night on the job, it rang a different tune. This was purposeful. So I’m going to delve deep into my inner Sybil and go Point Counterpoint on myself.
Point: You should never ever ever burn bridges. Ever.
Youngsters, take note. While it seems you are invincible in this mile-a-minute high tech world where you have a voice where seemingly EVERYONE listens to you all over the world, you are little more than a crushable peon. And I mean that in the most loving way. Let me explain… unfortunately you are always at the mercy of someone else. Whether you are seeking a job at a company (therefore both your boss and former boss – aka reference have control over you and whether or not you get or keep a job), or you go freelance where you have to attract new clients and then they control your contract. Even if you are a startup king or queen, most likely you will need investors: angel, VC or family members. Therefore you always want to keep everyone in your good graces because at some point they may have control over your future or financial peace.
Geez I sound like Emily Post.
If you feel like you are not being respected, don’t sink down to their level and react or lash out. Keep calm and carry on, right? Unbearable? Then quietly gather your resume, network and find a better fit. But just as you are not to flame your boss in an interview, you certainly don’t want to ever do it to the public on Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc. You will always be held accountable. Even if you or your friends think it’s funny, word will spread and you will be discovered as “that person” who flamed their boss.
As my mother said “Don’t do anything you don’t want to show up on the front page of the paper.” That was before social media, so take that advice and multiply it by 100.
Counterpoint: Treat your employees well.
Bosses, take note. When I started as an intern, there were people who respected me and treated me well, people who considered me invisible and those who treated me like dirt. Some have gone on with their careers and moved up, and some have remained stagnant. Regardless, I always remember the people who treated me well, or terribly the most. There was one President who shooed me away like I was a mouse and talked down to me. Then 10 years later, he was demoted and I was promoted to be Vice President, the same level as him. Then he was out of a job. I never refused to help him, but needless to say I never proactively helped him network like I did with others.
Every single person provides value. They may not all be a good fit in your organization, and if they aren’t do them and yourself a favor and have them move along. You do not want to foster an environment of discontentment, especially in this era where everyone has a voice.
In fact, at just about every business seminar I go to, the topic of “greatest challenge for your business” always comes back to attracting and retaining talent. Well if you treat your interns like peons, then that doesn’t motivate them to stay and grow at your organization. If other people see their complaints on Twitter, FB or even anonymously on Glassdoor.com, then you’re going to have a hard time attracting new talent.
Just remember- everyone is a human and deserves respect, regardless of job title, function or age.