Nick Carr has a blog post entitled Have Face Will Travel where he writes

So Microsoft's self-styled human face is now some other company's human face. This must be the first corporate human face transplant ever attempted. Will it take? Or will the new body reject the used puss? And what does it say about this whole human face business when a person proclaims himself to be a company's human face and then, when a better offer comes along, tears himself from the old noggin and stitches himself to the new one? That seems a little untoward to me. If I were in a punny mood, I just might call it a mugging.

A company should probably be a little nervous about letting some blogger set up shop as its human face. The earnings the blogger pulls in through the attention economy may accrue more to his own bottom line than the firm's.

I've been thinking about this a little over the past few days. The problem with having visible employees is that when they inevitably leave there is a potential negative PR hit. I started thinking about this when I read Gretchen Ledgard's post entitled closure about the emotional and career impact of having a highly visible corporate blog. I remember thinking that Microsoft's recruiting department had lost some of its shine when Gretchen and Zoe left. Seeing Robert Scoble combating the negative spin on his leaving Microsoft in his post Correcting the Record about Microsoft made similar thoughts come to mind.

What Nick Carr points out is a valid point, however I question the claim that the credit a company accrues due to visible employees accrues more to the employees than the company. It's definitely true that the employees get something out of it. Robert's clout as the 'human face' of Microsoft has gotten him as the cover story of magazines like The Economist and eventually has made him so famous it's been surprising (at least to me) that he'd want to stay at Microsoft as a mere evangelist when he could be off trading his brand for a better gig. On the other hand, there are thousands of people who've changed their impression of the company based on bloggers like Gretchen and Robert. This has directly impacted the hiring situation for the company [given the number of resumes that came in via Gretchen & Zoe's JobsBlog alone] as well as improved customer satisfaction for a lot of product groups.

At the end of the day, who wants to work at the kind of company that is worried that it's employees will become too popular and may get stolen away? Microsoft isn't that kind of company and that's one of the reasons it is a great place to work. If a company is so worried about employees becoming too visible then it probably has deeper personnel problems than just worrying about losing a few bloggers.


 

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 12:28:28 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I've been thinking the same types of things for awhile... self-aggrandizing employees vs self-deprecating employees... the overall situation seems similar to a star salesperson taking their contacts with them when they move.

One of the hard things for customers is the same thing that's hard for coworkers: it may take awhile to get to learn and appreciate a new colleague, but it's a sudden shock whenever an esteemed colleague leaves. We may see the absences more clearly than we see the new additions....
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 4:38:30 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Seriously, I suspect that Microsoft has precisely those sorts of problems, judging from some of the comments one finds on minimsft. You read that one from the guy saying he'd like to bash Mini because he took the time and effort to bring to light the fact that things weren't all rosy at Microsoft Corp.?

Of course, self-aggrandizement has never been in the cards for me - what else do you expect with a name like Mjinga?
Mjinga Wawa
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 7:22:31 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Dare, you're the best. Thanks so much for the fun back-and-forth we've had at Microsoft.

I think it's the job of corporations and bosses to make people who work for them better. If they get better enough to go off and try their own thing, that is just a credit to the smartness of the people involved all the way around.

And, doesn't that all come back anyway? I know lots of people who leave Microsoft (and other companies) for a while, learn something new, try something new, and come back with even more experience. Even at startups, I left Fawcette once and came back with a higher salary and a better perspective on how to make things successful.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 8:20:58 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Hello nice to meet you
Comments are closed.