Thursday, 31 May 2012

Vote for me?

It’s great to be nominated for an award. In itself it’s often a great achievement, let alone actually winning one. Once nominated though, it’s often the case that people like you & me get a chance to vote for that winner. 

All fair enough but what if you’ve never seen a nominees work or performance? 

Could you vote for a stranger? 
I was recently approached on Twitter by someone I vaguely know. They are a coach and I have no reason to believe that they don’t work to the set of coaching ethics that I do. We’ve met once, briefly at a conference in a group exercise. We follow each other on Twitter but we’ve not connected elsewhere and have never picked up the phone to each other. 

They wanted me to vote for them for a coaching award they had been nominated for & to retweet the fact that they’ve been nominated. 

I could have ignored their direct request to me but that didn’t feel like the right thing to do. I have respect for them based on what I know of them and that respect encouraged me to respond with my dilemma...  I explained my feelings and asked them on what basis do I vote for them in particular over the other candidates? 

My gut feel for the situation was rewarded with the sense of having done the right thing and with a prompt and reasonable reply. Their suggestion was that I could look at all the nominees videos and decide based on what I feel is in line with my values and integrity. A fair & respectful response I think. 

That feeling of being Chugged... 
I’ll do nothing about the voting – the videos say what you’d expect the nominees to say. Perhaps more importantly, in my heart I feel that you can only genuinely vote for someone when you have an appreciation of their abilities & how they perform. 

But here’s the thing. The experience felt a bit like when you are approached by a “Chugger” on the street. They may be nice people. Their cause may be worthy. But their manner of approach and apparent motivation feels wrong... 

Unfortunately, this experience has made me question this persons judgement. I’m wondering if really they are just trying to win the nomination not on merit but by mobilising their Twitter followers to vote for them. I wonder if this approach risks making the award a hollow popularity contest...

Do I know you well enough? 
So I look at Twitter and the people I follow and wonder who do I know well enough to vote for them if they were nominated for an award in their area of expertise. There’s plenty of folk I like, respect & want to support but sometimes that isn’t enough. I have great friends on Twitter who I trust but I’ve rarely seen them at work. 

So I look at myself on Twitter and wonder who knows my work well enough to vote for me in the work that I do? Of my 900 followers who would I genuinely approach? 

I’m not chasing awards but the answer makes me realise that what I’m doing on Twitter is not enough. For all the great learning, sharing, support, debate and friendships I have thanks to Twitter there’s very few people in a position to endorse my work in this way. That’s something I’m going to change. 

In the meantime, I have a couple of questions for you... 

How would you have responded to the ethical situation I described above? I’d like to learn from others' perspectives on this example.

Looking at your Twitter interactions, do you also find few people know your work well enough to vote for you? Perhaps I’m in the minority!


  1. It's a good dilemma! I'm more interested in the "there's very few people in a position to endorse my work in this way. That's something I'm going to change."

    I'd argue that through the conversations you have, the blog posts you write, people get a very good sense of the calibre of your work. For example, there is someone I know on Twitter who talks about his work, and shows examples. From this, it's very possible for me to make a judgement on his expertise. At the same time, he engages in conversations that play to his strengths. This also gives me a sense of his calibre. And then there are conversations he has which do not play to his strengths and he gets caught up in trying to serve opinion where he probably should not. This also gives me a sense of his calibre. I don't know the man. But I see a lot of interaction which gives me an informed opinion of him.

    Could this form the basis on which I could judge whether or not I want to vote for him? Yes.

  2. It's an interesting one!

    I think your point about talking about your work is a very good one and something that resonates for me personally.  I don't think I've done enough of this.

    In the spirit of exploring the ethics/judgement here, let's take the example you gave and let's say hundreds of us voted on "the work that they do" for this person based on the impression gained from Twitter.  We have an appreciation for their calibre, the thinking they have, their interactions.  I'd say that it's only through the examples of their work that we'd be able to vote on "the work that they do".Would we then vote for them based solely on this or would we compare them against the other candidates?  Do we vote on relative merit or people we favour?  If we vote for people we favour are we recognising excellence?

    [I'm not trying to assert a right/wrong position here just seeking to explore further!]

  3. Ok well as Tom Peters might say, only you can shout about Brand You.

    Personally, I'd vote based.on my judgement of their work. I don't have the time to compare them against their competitors. That in turn defeats the point of a publicly voted award in blogging (for example). I'm glad to vote because of my connection with you, but is it a sign of excellence? No. It's a popularity contest.

    However, if the awards are judged by those who know of all parties and it's restricted to that group, then it is meaningful. This isn't X-Factor, often we haven't seen all entries so make an I'll-formed decision.

  4. Maybe this is an impossible situation! How can you vote for someone without knowing well what they do? In this instance it sounds like you could not have voted - the process was wrong. That is also a good reason to say no to voting - it's not about the person, it is about the process.  

    I agree with Sukh that transparency online around what you do and how you conduct yourself gives you a good sense of someone and what they can offer. That is enough to get to know them more if you think they can help you. But that's not the same as having experienced what they can do.

    Maybe there are two separate issues here. 1) a vote for a coach maybe not the best way of deciding who is good (was that the aim of this vote?).  2) I believe you can build up a good sense of someone via Twitter, blogs etc, certainly enough to meet face to face to move things on. Endorsement can only come from having worked with you IMHO.

  5. Twitter is a great way to chat, make connections, have company, be creative, but it's not working with someone and experiencing the efficacy or otherwise of their work.  You are seeing only what is presented to you, although I agree with Sukh's point that you can formulate a good sense of an individual, but you are not seeing them at work.    You are not seeing them in any complete sense. 

    I would question the value of the award - are people self nominated?  That de values it if it's about coaching.      Wouldn't it be the coachees that would offer up nominations?  I'm not sure I would be comfortable asking even people who I know well to vote for me on anything.   Surely they have to initiate it for it to mean something?

    I've only been a tweeter (twitterer, tweep, twit?) for a month so whilst the #connectingHR is a warm and welcoming community, and I sense a great deal of authenticity and intelligence within, it's only a month and I haven't worked with any of you. Thinking about it, actually, I've met most people face to face either at L&DU or CIPD or ConnectingHR, or all three, and in Doug Shaw's case, met him at an anarchic discussion too.  So my sense of what people are is founded on having met you all.

    So, to answer your questions, I would have said no to the request without any hesitation or discomfort, and would  explain that I don't have enough knowledge of their work to make any informed judgement.
    My twitter interactions -   wouldn't it be all of my followers who would answer that question, not me?  I would assume that as I haven't worked with anyone, what evidence would anyone be voting on?    I'm not sure I'd want to offer up any endorsements to prospective clients, unless I'd worked and delivered for the people recommending me through voting, LI recommendations or any other type of endorsement. 

  6. Thanks Martin, especially for helping separate the issues here.

    I believe the vote was a way of recognising excellence for a particular group/community.  On reflection perhaps voting for a coach is indeed the wrong thing to do... perhaps a vote for a coaching relationship would have more merit?  I think with the best of intentions, this award nomination has highlighted to me the potential to brand excellence but only reflect popularity.  We see this elsewhere in work, media and even Twitter...

    On your second point, that's where I'm coming from.  It's a bit like meeting Dave in the pub... nice fella, good laugh, but is he any good at what he does?  We may like him, believe in him and be familiar with him but in reality we'd only ever connect him to someone rather than vote for him I think.

    Using the pub analogy, I think if Dave was always down in the pub, even during the day, we'd probably start to question his work or even work ethic!  Does that relate to Twitter too?

  7. Hi Megan and thank you for taking time to share your thoughts!

    That whole concept of voting for a coach is starting to feel a bit like voting for the best mother or father... yes there are remarkable people out there but is any one of all the good parents out there better than the rest?  It's starting to feel as though voting for a person (rather than a say a deed, contribution, project or single piece of work) can only ever be a popularity contest rather than an award for merit.

    Your point about endorsements resonates for me.  We want to use endorsements for our work that have meaning and validity... I think this is the source of my questioning the persons judgement, and I have to say ethics also.

    Thanks Megan - that's unwrapped another useful layer!

  8. Ok well as Tom Peters might say, only you can shout about Brand You.

    Personally, I'd vote based.on my judgement of their work. I don't have the time to compare them against their competitors. That in turn defeats the point of a publicly voted award in blogging (for example). I'm glad to vote because of my connection with you, but is it a sign of excellence? No. It's a popularity contest.

    However, if the awards are judged by those who know of all parties and it's restricted to that group, then it is meaningful. This isn't X-Factor, often we haven't seen all entries so make an I'll-formed decision.

  9. So in answer to your questions.

    To the first one, I would have probably ignored it, as I have done with someone I know who has done something similar. That might not be adult, but have to much other stuff going on right now so easier to "avoid" the dilemma sometimes - Kilmann says its ok to use all conflict styles!!!

    To the second question. I would also say that few people know my work to vote for me, but thats not an issue for me. Yes I am interested in survival so need clients, but I am not interested in gongs and medals so would not even find myself in this situation. 
    You do raise a more important consideration for me though and I liked Sukh's reflection on why I am on twitter. I want to engage with others, I want to share and receive new insights and thoughts, and i would like to think that as a result people will think well of me, and that maybe one day they might give me some work.
    That to me is TRUST, and how do you measure that, certainly not in a twitter poll.

  10. Ian - I love "Kilmann says its ok to use all conflict styles" - something I'm going to store in the old brain and use!

    Yours & Sukh's point about trust is well taken & I'm a strong advocate also.  I guess the underlying point is as you imply... that trust through Twitter can turn to work and that work can turn to endorsement.  So at some stage we're hoping to be in a position where followers on Twitter will endorse our work.  As business people does ambition in this regard help us?  Is it a subject we're not explicit about enough I wonder?

  11. I think its ok to be explicit about the use of twitter, and I would like to think I am being explicit in why and how I use it. I'm in it for the long game, and trust that stuff will happen as a result. I use twitter because I want to, rather than feeling than I have to!
    For me, its all about intent. Yes its a sales and engagement tool, but I would like to think that I share too, and its not just a broadcast tool!

  12. That pretty much describes my use also Ian - as with me (I hope!) you also show friendship and support in abundance.  There's lots of us that do exactly this and through interactions we seem to find each other.

    Have any of us ever been explicit about our use of twitter (purpose)?  I would say not but hopefully to a large extent it's come across in our interaction and it's appreciated.  Perhaps the underlying question is do we need to be more explicit?  With a sales focus, how do potential clients know "you are open for business" rather than just a chat?

  13. "Open for business" maybe thats it, and thats about moving it from a friendship or network connection to client!

  14. For some it possible feels a bit in your face, but done well I think saying that "you are open for business" is possibly what many don't do enough of.  It's certainly worthy of more attention.

    I pondered this transition from relationship to client..  My thinking is that sometimes it will be just that.... connection>relationship>client.

    Other times and maybe more significantly it will be connection>relationship>friendship>friendship+client OR connection>relationship>friendship>partner

    Quality of relationship and compatible services are probably the key.

  15. I think you've highlighted the conundrum of "awards" perfectly Sukh!