Reports on Charlie Sheen’s seemingly outlandish life seem to be everywhere. So what do you think—is Charlie a mad genius or just mad? Whatever your opinion about Charlie, his behavior does point to an issue employers have to deal with on occasion—the issue of an employee who embarrasses or undermines the integrity of the company brand.
Based on his media interviews, Charlie seems to be glad to be who he is—and if you do not like his lavish, libidinous lifestyle, “the hell with you.” Do you think his employer, CBS, did the right thing in firing Charlie from the show (a show about a man with a lavish, libidinous lifestyle?) Shutting him out because he actually lives the part seems to be a contradiction—though would you want an actor who is playing an ax murder to actually be one?
In the real world, not Charlie’s, it is generally understood you do not go out of your way to make your employer look the fool. As the old saying goes, “Not even dogs defecate where they eat.”
Most employers understand their employees will be frustrated occasionally and may say something negative about their employer. If the comment is not overly egregious or does not threaten harm, a conversation between the employee and supervisor is typically all that is needed. In a case where an employee wantonly and knowingly denigrates his or her employer through words and/or actions, a stronger management response is required.
One of our client companies had to terminate an employee after he showed up drunk at a conference. The employee had a history of addiction issues and the employer had accommodated him through changes in schedules and intermittent leave to go to treatment. Despite all those efforts, the employee showed up at a conference representing the company, wearing company apparel and name badge, and proceeded to get plastered. His obnoxious behavior was quickly relayed to his employer by the conference host. In order to stave off further damage to their reputation, the employer, a family-oriented business, had little choice but to terminate the employee.
Why is this important? Well…because no matter if you are an owner or employee, people who are or could be customers, will evaluate you by your behavior, not your intentions. It is not about being a prude or not having fun; quite the contrary, most folks like being around people having a genuinely good time. Though if they see you treating someone, including yourself, badly and they know where you work, the chances of that potential customer having negative feelings about your employer are pretty strong.
Some may say that what you do outside of work is none of your employer’s business. I disagree and believe we all have a responsibility to represent our employers well. While you or I won’t get widespread press coverage like Charlie Sheen, our actions will be noticed and can impact on our employer’s reputation.
About the blogger
Darrin Tonsfeldt has a background of program administration, employee supervision, and clinical experience, as well as 20 years of experience in organization consulting and planning. He provides oversight of The Village Business Institute, Regional Counseling Services, and Financial Resource Center programs. He also provides consulting services that include strategic planning; career, leadership, management, and executive coaching; corporate training and group facilitation; crisis response in the workplace; and organizational consulting.