As I drove into the office this morning I heard that Google had fired the employee that leaked an internal memo regarding the global Google 10% raise. My first thought was the firing took place because the information was not correct or set in stone. I figured an overzealous employee had released the information prematurely. However, that was not the case. In fact, Google had released a confidential memo to all employees describing the raise and thanking them for their efforts as “Googlers”.
It reminded me of when Broadvox and Cypress Communications released a confidential memo describing the proposed merger and asking employees to not discuss it outside the company. Our intent was to address rumors, suspicions and my staff wondering what I was working on when away from the office at a secret location. We released the memo while I was in flight from Cleveland back to Dallas and by the time I landed I had a voice mail and an email from an individual outside of Broadvox asking for additional information. Of course, by the following morning, there were quite a few interested parties and we then issued a public statement.
My point is this, we sent an internal memo to just over three hundred people and it was not kept secret. Google on the other hand sent a memo to over twenty-three thousand people with the expectation of complete secrecy and when that was violated they fired the violator. Even more interesting is that the memo would have made a great public relations piece. It lavishes praise on all of the Googlers. It identifies a change in compensation plans to reflect the desire of employees to have their bases increased in lieu of potential bonuses. And it announces “that everyone will get a holiday cash bonus, too.”
This is good stuff. I have never seen this type of memo in my thirty years of working. It would have positioned Google in my mind as one of the best large companies on the planet to work for today. Instead, because of an unexpected loss of privacy, kind of ironic when you think of Google, an employee was fired. That sours the mood for Google employees and certainly changes the public perception of the raises by Google. There ought to be a move to get the poor guy or gal rehired by all of the Googlers.
During the night that the bloggers began spreading the news of the pending Broadvox/Cypress merger, we never thought of pursuing the employee that leaked the information. Instead we decided the appropriate act was to make a public statement to clear the air. Consequently, traffic to our site, calls to our marketing representatives and new leads hit an all time high. While I do not approve leaking confidential information, I do believe that the reaction to such a leak should be commensurate to the damage caused by the leak. In the case of Google, the lead could have been handled with aplomb and been a public relations boom. There is time to still salvage this, hire the employee back. Period.
See you Monday with more IP thoughts and another original recipe.