Monday, September 9, 2013

Freedom of Speech, False Starts.and Conformity

As the head of HR for 2 major corporations the past dozen yrs. I have been caught between expressing my ideas freely and conforming to the business "code of silence" that all HR leaders are challenged with daily. Blogging for me was a compromise, an outlet without naming names or giving specifics. I spent many a post dancing around issues, giving examples with generalities and  looking for a space to let a little air out of the stress balloon.
Early on blogging was fun and it helped me find my inner voice for topics that were taboo and off limits at work...For the record I never came out and ever named "names" even though I was tempted to.
Then one day the paradigm shifted, The CEO at Leviton came in to talk about his concerns over my blog. A member of the firms legal team had set up a google alert on every executive committee members name, and over the course of three days I popped up numerous times A report was generated for the CEO and my name was on top of the list. He told me he enjoyed the reading,  however he asked me to stop blogging over concerns that I might get a little to close to a real scenario and was concerned over litigation. I was enjoying my new outlet and had built up a significant following. I was taken back and a little angry but for a short period of time complied, maybe 5 or 6 weeks.
Then the itch to write got the better of me to continue and it only took a few days for a second conversation. this time it was no longer a request but a demand, as an executive committee member this was considered a non-starter. I was to stop immediately. Now to add a little context, I had never had a disagreement of a personal nature with my boss, we had a good relationship, but on this one there was to be no compromise - I respected my boss even though I disagreed with him. So I reluctantly stopped blogging.
Fast forward 18 months, a new job found me in the position to start the blog up again, the world had become more educated and accepting of social media. I thought the timing was right. It only took a couple of posts until I raised some eyebrows at my former firm. A friendly phone call included a reminder to not open Pandora's box. I agreed and went back to blogging for a few more weeks when wouldn't you know it I received a call to sit with our COO at Marcum to discuss my social media activities. Since I keep my Facebook firewalled from business and had a "G" rated presence on LinkedIn and Twitter...I knew what was coming.
I was asked to stop blogging again....this time it was not as clear or firm, but the message was there...So at this point one might ask - Mark are you an idiot? Give it up already.
Easier said then done. The left wing liberal of my younger days was itching to escape from my buttoned up conservative business persona....So I found an alternative. I started to blog at Adelphi on their EDU site. As an adjunct I had certain liberties and I took full advantage of it."The Business of HR" blog was started It was tame in comparison to my earlier rants, but it was my view points and no one told me to take it down. I have been posting during the school yr. a couple times of month ever since and will continue to do so for the forseeable future.
The only problem was the blog was focused on the intersection of business and college, a narrow lane to drive thru and a limited audience.
Time caused futility and eventually (this past winter), I brought HC3 back to life. It was stealth at the time, a couple of editorials and a couple of articles republished...
So now  I am back writing and posting and ranting again...My one regret is all the posts I deleted each time I stopped, there was some really good reads.
They say you never really loose your passions, you just sometimes have to push them an old pair of jeans that you just can't get rid of - even when others want you to.

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