Are you a company executive, leader, manager, or perhaps even in the lofty "C" suite? Now that I have your attention, listen to me. I will try to make this as clear as I possibly can for you:
You can no longer "sweep things under the rug" and keep them "in house" or "internal." Those areas no longer exist in your company. They are gone. For good.
Case in point: At a recent Houston Astros and Oakland A’s baseball game in Houston’s Minute Maid Park, Oakland A player Josh Reddick threw a handful of sunflower seeds into the face of an Astros employee while she was doing her job—throwing T-shirts and prizes to the crowd from the top of the dugout. A job she does solely because of her love for her home team and the game of baseball.
This Houston Astros employee and baseball fan sent a letter to the Oakland A's Director of PR Bob Rose and asked for an apology from Reddick. All she received was the assurance that it would be "handled internally" and not a word from Reddick or an apology from anyone with the Oakland A’s.
Fast-forward a few days later. I am sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room for an annual checkup. Running late as doctors do, we patients are left to either entertain ourselves or talk to each other. As the conversation jumps around, the subject of companies who ignore customers and problems becomes a topic of discussion. That is when one woman tells the story of her daughter and a recent incident at a baseball game, pulling out a rough draft of the letter her daughter wrote to officials with both teams.
So, company executives, leaders, managers, and baseball teams—you would be well served to realize that everyone has a voice now and you never know where the story will journey. When you do try to keep "incidents" in the team locker, they will find a way to home plate whether you authorized it or not.
Update: Reddick tweeted today that he had no idea the Astro employee wanted an apology. If he had, he would've "happily given one."
[Image: Flickr user Paolo Gamba]