Saturday, November 26, 2011

When the Hunt Becomes the Hunted

Many people would have heard about the furore created when the former girlfriend of Geelong footballer Josh Hunt 'flamed' him this week in an email that subsequently went around the country. Notwithstanding my passion for the game itself, the ins and outs of footballer relationships don't interest me all that much. However there are parallels for my clients, and hence for us here. In no particular order:

1) Electing to send an email telling others what she thought of her allegedly cheating boyfriend was reactionary, low on emotional intelligence and should have stayed private. She said in the papers she couldn't believe how quickly the email spread yet she reportedly sent it to around fifty people. You don’t have to be a mathematician to work out the distribution permutations and combinations of that are close to viral proportions.

2) The reactive, immature and vitriolic reaction of Josh Hunt's girlfriend regrettably eclipses any potential unethical wrongdoing of his own; in our world the inappropriate response by any person or company to an antecedent event can cloud the message and camouflage any original wrongdoing.

3) Long after the two protagonists involved have got over each other and moved on their digital reputation will linger.

The negative potential of social media to destroy reputations, to perpetuate foolish and embarrassing events and actions must be considered by employees in relation to events like Christmas parties.

It was bound to happen but I heard for the first time this week a client is toying with the idea of asking staff to leave phones and cameras at the door of their Christmas party event to ensure attendees’ privacy is not invaded at their function.

Probably more practical and more adult is to ensure staff understand their obligations in relation to their misconduct policy and that any function will surely be considered an extension of the work environment. Banning something as ubiquitous as a phone is nigh on impossible, particularly as people can argue it will preclude them from taking any emergency calls. Asking staff to have respect for the privacy of others by not using their phones as cameras and asking the people attending to remember they are 'on parade' and bound by policy seem much more sensible paths to follow as they reflect a shared responsibility by all attending.