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Putting the Fear Aside

Social media is a double-edged sword. It has allowed me to express my thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects. It has given me fantastic opportunities to network, gain knowledge in different areas, as well as collaborate with creative and intelligent individuals. The benefits have by far outweighed the drawbacks, most of which have to do with time. There simply isn’t enough of it; like anyone I often have to balance multiple priorities so I’ve had to make sacrifices. In the end it’s been worth it and I’m better as a result. Yet having this platform has come with a price.

When I first started getting involved in social media, I was scared. Yes, scared. As a practitioner working for a major retailer I had concerns regarding how my then employer would perceive my tweets, blog posts, and other online activities. If they put the pieces (of my social life) together what type of image would they see? As the person who was directly responsible for crafting, in addition to guiding employees in adhering to, the organization’s policy and procedures, would they see my efforts as contradictory to that role? 

So I started off as an anonymous blogger. It was difficult; it was hard work maintaining a dual identity. It was also awkward not being able to speak publicly about what I did. When I or someone else would slip up (for example, by mentioning my real name in connection with my blog) I would get nervous, thinking that sooner or later my secret would be revealed. After a while I couldn’t do it anymore, and I came out. It was a relief, but the fear took a long time to go away, because I still didn’t discuss it at work. It wasn’t until a co-worker casually mentioned a blog post of mine that they liked that I truly began to relax.

Nowadays I’m a jet setting HR blogger (sarcasm alert!) but it wasn’t always that way. And now I face a different issue, one that’s still based on fear. I now have an established platform through which people read and enjoy my work. I have gained a measure of influence and most importantly to me, respect from my peers. Yet I find myself hesitating to write certain posts, or broadcast certain opinions, because I’m afraid.

I resigned from my previous company in September of 2011. Since then I, along with millions of others, have searched for a role, an organization, a place to be a part of. And I’ve been fortunate in my quest. As with any job search there has been plenty of ups-and-downs. Unfortunately, there’s been many incidences where I’ve had to question people’s professionalism. I don’t ask for perfection; what I do ask for is sticking to your word, following-up, and above all else, acting like you understand this point: 

They seem like simple words, and yet there were times during my search where I wanted to say more to those around me about my experience. I wanted to be quite specific, naming names, dates, and what was done exactly that warranted my claims of unprofessional conduct. And unlike the average job seeker, I have several thousand connections, online and off, that I could share my story with. That’s where my fear laid. I feared some days I wouldn’t care about my reputation, one that I built over many years, and let as many people as possible know exactly why they shouldn’t consider working for XYZ organization, or why they should avoid working with a particular recruiter. 
Instead…

I let it go. I put the fear aside, not because I was scared, but because I’m a professional. I refused to allow fear or anger guide my decisions. If there’s something to be learned from my experience, it’s that poor decisions by others helped to reinforce mine–to be better, to be a person and a professional that people respect, not just for the position they occupy, but because they lead with integrity and honesty. That is who I am as a person, and that is the type of person I want to work with.

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