The Oxford Dictionary defines a troll as an ugly creature from Scandinavian folklore, usually depicted as either a giant or a dwarf. The alternative definition involves either a method of fishing or a person who makes an online comment with the explicit purpose of upsetting another or eliciting an angry response from them.
Now dear reader I have not come into contact with any Scandinavian mythical beings of late, and if I had I think the description of ‘ugly’ is a bit harsh as none of us are perfect specimens of the human race, nor have I spent time at sea but I have had the misfortune to be contacted directly by the latter.
One evening this week I reached out to a number of my LinkedIn connections to ask if they would do me the kindness of providing me with a recommendation, which I in turn would happily reciprocate if they so wished. I received a handful of genial responses and look forward to some honest feedback from people who know me well, at all stages on the ladder of their career, and with whom I have spent time building a professional relationship in the last few years. I believe it is particularly important to get feedback from not only peers and senior stakeholders but from colleagues at the beginning of their career journeys – this feedback is just as important in providing insight and understanding for me as that of Dirctors and members of the Exec.
Among those I reached out to was a young man I and my team had been involved with on several initiatives. I do not know him particularly well personally, but he struck me as bright, articulate and someone who despite his youth and professional inexperience could provide me with a recommendation based on his unique viewpoint. I also assumed I could help raise the young man’s profile as he has no recommendations and only three skills endorsement on LinkedIn. I would most definitely be able to attest to the values and behaviours I had actively seen him demonstrate.
Imagine my surprise at 11:30pm last night when, finishing up my Soprano’s box set, I received a LinkedIn message from said young man which read as if either his account had been hacked or, more lke someone had been on the brave juice. He declined to give me a recommendation (fair enough) on the grounds that he did not understand what value I had brought to the organisation, disparaged a colleague who had worked in my team, announced he was please when he found out I was leaving and further hoped I could justify the exorbitant salary I had earned for seemingly doing nothing! You could have hit me with a wet fish.
After wiping the herring scales from my mush I shared my pride in my achievements to date and suggested his young imagination was running wild with him on the salary front. I considered my next step and in doing so drew upon some sage words given by two wise men I know – my father-in-law and my father. “Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one” and “If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all”. I chose to heed both.
In this day and age it’s far too easy to sit behind a computer and dole out venom as people see fit. Some prefer this to speaking face to face and giving honest and open feedback. I can assure those people they won’t get far in life.
I believe in karma. The professional field I work in is a narrow and specialised one and as such we fish in a very small pond, especially when it comes to recruitment. I do so wish that at some point in the future this young man’s CV crosses my desk for I would take great delight in educating him about the impact that values and behaviours will have on your future success….or failure.