Personal Branding is already conflicting with Company Branding outside the work place. A middle school teacher was suspended with pay for making remarks about her students on Face Book (Norwalk, 2010). A woman was fired after criticizing her boss on face book (“Fired over Facebook,” 2011). A young man was rejected for a position at Cisco because he tweeted that he had to weigh the fat paycheck against the drive and work (Popkin, 2009). These examples go on and on. Entire sites have been dedicated to helping employees build their personal brands without conflicting with their company brand (Schawbel, 2009). However, the issue of employee’s personal branding will grow in the minds of middle management as their private and public lives begin to blur. David Snyder predicts that in the future the boundaries between private and work life will diminish, we will always be on call (2004). While most personal brands will be seen as an asset to companies others may inadvertently become liabilities. As a middle manager in 2020 I could see where conflicts in Branding could be a big issue. Forecasters already predict an increase in personal branding outlets (Lorenz, 2010). Forecasters are also predicting a shortage of talented employees for the future (Lorenz, 2010). Christina Dahlblom of Stockholm School of Economics is warning business to be ready for the talent war in 2020 (2010). I assert that businesses in the future will sacrifice employee character for needed talent and expertise. This sacrifice will be a big challenge for middle managers. Middle managers will need to mitigate personal brandings that are in direct conflict with the organizations brand while keeping needed talent. Several challenges lay in the path of the middle managers of the future. In order to mitigate personal branding conflicts, middle managers will have to know about most types of social media. Currently there are several forms of social media outlets, but the number and scope of these organizations are growing exponentially. Erik Qualman states in his book Socialnomics that if Facebook were a country it would have populations greater than that of the United States (2009). “Social networking is in its infancy,” stated July Woodruff a prominent reporter for PBS (2010). In fact the number of patents for new social network media has been on the rise for the last seven years and has no signs of slowing down (Nowotarski, 2011).
A second challenge for middle managers is that employees of the future will be predisposed to new social media. Middle managers will have to encourage new forms of social media in the work place, not only to keep employees happy but also to connect needed talent. Talent connected this way will be unlike employees that work with each other on a daily basis; these groups are made up of available talent from across the organization. This process is referred to by a leading research company Gartner as swarming (Tudor, 2010).
The interconnected nature of such businesses will be highly affected by conflicting brands. A single employee in the swarm can threaten the Company Brand. For example, if one employee inadvertently commented against the company brand everyone in the swarm would know about it. Maybe an employee see’s a different company as being a better opportunity, again every other talented employee in the swarm would know about it. The need for talent will be so important that middle managers would be scrambling to keep valued employees. In 2020, I believe retraining employees won’t be cheap and finding new talent (in the future) will be challenging. A third challenge for middle managers is that laws of the future may not be on the side of businesses in issues against personal branding. Recently an ambulance company settled with the National Labor Review Board. The company fired an employee for making remarks about his manager on Face Book (“Fired over...