JWebb posted an insightful blog entry at LoveYourUsers, a frank discussion of the CEO discussion board. I’m also perplexed at the thought process some of our employees use as they participate in the public discussion board, asking questions or making suggestions to our CEO.
The site includes a brief introduction that this is “an opportunity to ask any follow-up questions [that a person may still have] from the All Staff meeting” where our CEO shares topics from his perspective and gives us the “State of the Union.”
On the plus side, several employees that think things through have posted some great questions appropriate for our CEO to spend time on:
- asking for his vision for our future,
- asking for his definition of the term “high-performing employee”
- commenting on decisions that he is responsible for,
- clarifying our not-for-profit corporate structure,
- asking for clarification regarding our newest high-profile account.
But, why are the following topics posted on the board?
Inappropriate (Off-Topic) Topics
- Parking lot security and reserved parking spots questions (several) – Don’t those topics seem appropriate to ask our Security and Facilities division to set policy, not our CEO?
- Requests for newer flat-screen computer monitors “like other people have” (doesn’t that sound like a little whiny kid?). Doesn’t that sound like they should have gone to their supervisor to build a business case? I don’t know what policy is set at your company, but here, PC and office equipment purchase needs are based on job requirements.
- Suggestions that our cafés accept credit/debit cards. Doesn’t that sound it should have gone to the café steering committee or the Facilities division that oversees food services, not our CEO?
- A whiny observation that one of our family of companies has a perceived different holiday schedule. Doesn’t that sound like it should have gone to the supervisor to explain the differences between the two companies and perhaps include how union and non-union employees are under different benefits and bargaining structures.
Some of the most talked about posts are those posted anonymously. That prompted my own post to the board:
Why was the “Talk with Rob” board set up to allow anonymous posts? Two reasons I ask this are:  “Mutual openness” — in fairness to you, shouldn’t each of us also open ourselves to the same intense scrutiny and “take ownership” of our comments?  “Efficiency and relevancy” –in some of [Rob’s] replies to anonymous posts, you were unable to completely answer the caller’s question, not knowing what building, division, or city they work in; facts that could have added specifics to your answer. I think “anonymous” should be reserved for opinion polls [and charitable donations], not this very public communication tool on VSPNet.
Andy, these are great points. We have considered removing the ability to post “anonymously” on this but decided against it for the time being. The main problem with posting anonymously is that which you point out. Some people are asking specific questions that are not answerable without more detailed information. Other than that, I can understand why someone might want to post a sensitive question or issue anonymously, especially if they are a new employee and not familiar with our culture around openness and individual accountability.
My favorite comment was from a coworker (“S”) who read both my post and Rob’s reply, thanked me for speaking out, but then said: “now, I’m going to blame you if my daily dose of humor from these morons has to be filled elsewhere.”