When a superstar leaves your company

reggie

One reason I encourage my Razorfish colleagues to embrace social media is that I believe employees are our best brand ambassadors. Employees who have an active conversation in the markeplace via blogging, Twitter, etc., make the Razorfish brand more authentic while they build their own personal brands at the same time. Recently I was asked whether I still feel that way since thought leader and social media lead Shiv Singh left Razorfish to pursue a career at PepsiCo. To wit: should Razorfish encourage employees to create strong brands for themselves when we know they can take their brands with them if they leave the company? My answer is an emphatic “yes.” Here’s why:

  • Employees are not indentured servants. The days when employees sustained lifetime employment at one company ended a long time ago. Rather than fear the inevitability of losing talent at some point, employers should embrace the reality of the employee as free agent. Employers should maximize theĀ  value of an employee’s brand while the opportunity exists. With an active social voice, a strong thought leaders can generate business leads and goodwill for your company brand. If you fail to empower a thought leader, you’re just going to leave brand-building opportunities on the table.
  • We live in an era when employees can build their personal brands easily — with or without the help of the employer. Employers should get with the program by empowering employees with useful guidelines such as how to Tweet effectively or guidelines for blogging. I would argue that the employer has a responsibility to help the employee use social media the right way and avoid mistakes that can hurt the employee and the company brand.
  • Encouraging your employees to have active social voices builds goodwill and trust. It comes down to doing the right thing and exercising some common sense at the same time: employees who feel like their employer wants to collaborate with them (instead of hamper their social voices) are going to become even stronger ambassadors. And remember, today’s employee could be your client tomorrow and most certainly will talk about you to potential hires. If and when your employee seeks a career elsewhere, he or she will pay that goodwill back to you.

Rather than fret over losing social media superstars, employers are better off building a network of them. In the case of Razorfish, we are fortunate in that we have strong talent uniformly, in my opinion. As Shiv pointed out in his own blog, Andrea Harrison has assumed Shiv’s role as Razorfish social media lead and is off to a great start, having discussed social CRM and Facebook privacy recently at OMMA Social.

On a personal note, I wish nothing but the best for my good friend and colleague Shiv, and I’m incredibly excited about collaborating with Andrea.