In recent months, we have seen a series of controversies arise around the hiring of public figures in the media, sports, and entertainment industries after inflammatory comments they made on Twitter several years ago were brought to light. The Wall Street Journal explored the role of social media in recruiting through the lens of these stories earlier this month, noting that the vetting of candidates’ social media is increasingly common but still fairly new and less standardized than other forms of candidate screening.
Some of these controversies have led organizations to rescind job offers or terminate new hires on the basis of their old tweets, fueling extensive debate over whether these decisions chilled free speech, unfairly took people’s words out of context, or overreacted to flippant past remarks that did not necessarily reflect the person that candidate or new hire is today. In industries where talent has a public face, or in high-profile companies, employers are becoming more wary of what prospective hires have written on social media in the past, which anyone might dig up and use to damage their reputation and that of their employer.
In general, US companies are paying more attention to the social media histories of their prospective employees, not only in high-profile businesses like journalism and entertainment, according to a recent survey from CareerBuilder:
Seventy percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates (on par with last year), while seven percent plan to start. And that review matters: Of those that do social research, 57 percent have found content that caused them not to hire candidates. …
From our research at CEB, now Gartner, we know that most mergers and acquisitions are not clear successes. As with other forms of major enterprise change, there are many possible reasons why two companies might fail to integrate: culture clash, product mix-ups, stalled growth, complex technology integrations, and so on. According to INSEAD professor Quy Huy, another reason M&A can fail is because the communication plan is overly positive and too frequently impersonal.
Huy believes that part of the problem is what he calls the “trap of professionalism,” a symptom of modern corporate culture in which negative feelings are suppressed and politeness is overvalued relative to raising constructive tensions that can improve ideas. Additionally, once disagreements bubble to the surface, the response is often more rosy messaging rather than straightforward attempts to discuss and address any issues.
Huy discovered how this dynamic of productive disagreement plays out in the context of M&A by interviewing 73 managers across both organizations involved in an acquisition. At first, both sides were excited by the possibilities of their merger. The acquirer saw value in gaining specialized expertise within its walls and the acquired company was excited about having the resources to take on more ambitious projects. But tension quickly arose, initially due to differences in the philosophy of each organization’s sales strategy, and later due to challenges in IT integration.
The issue wasn’t that these tensions existed, but that they were never discussed or addressed.
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No matter where in the world you live and work, you might have heard a little bit about the ongoing US presidential campaign. Marked by strong polarization and deep divisions both between Democrats and Republicans as well as within each party, for Americans, this “silly season” is bound to ruin more than a few friendships by November. Not only that, a new CareerBuilder survey finds that arguments about presidential politics are making their way into the office, with 30 percent of managers and 17 percent of employees saying they “have argued with a co-worker over a particular candidate this election season, most often about presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump”:
“With passions running high this political season, individuals run the risk of saying things or behaving in ways that can be considered unprofessional or discriminatory toward each other,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “The tip to navigating the rough waters during election season is to make sure your conversations are fair and respectful. If you feel like political chit-chat is getting heated or confrontational, it’s time to walk away.”