Jerry Meyer, CEO of Fiscal Care Services, a New Jersey-based provider of comprehensive revenue cycle management for the skilled nursing facility industry, wrote a post on LinkedIn that went viral with over 6 million views.
He said in the post, “I got wind that an employee of ours had gone for an interview at another company.” Meyer continued, “I called the potential employer, and encouraged him to hire this employee.” He told the possible new employer that the candidate is an “excellent employee” and the company “would benefit from hiring him.”
The employee found out and was taken aback, saying, “Why are you doing this?”
Meyer responded, “I’m no saint, and I’m not crazy. I did it because this particular employee had maxed out at our company. I could not provide him with the opportunity he was looking for to progress in his career.” Meyer empathized, “There are few things that damage a person’s morale more than coming to work day after day, feeling that you are trapped in a job.” Staying would have kept his employee in “golden handcuffs.”
When he first interviews people, Meyer said, “I always tell them that if they max out, I will help them find a new job and push them out the door.“ He finds this policy benefits both the company and employee.
The response from LinkedIn members was divided and, at times, heated.
Here are some of the sample responses:
“Interesting to think about how Jerry Meyer got wind of it, and why you didn’t discuss it with the employee before doing it? Was this knowledge that he had maxed out at the company shared? Emotional intelligence tells us to engage with employees. I don’t have all the facts, but it seems this was a great opportunity to talk.”
“Jerry Meyer, that’s great. However, had you ever asked the employee if he/she would be okay with you talking to a potential new employer on his/her behalf? From an HR perspective, without doing so, you may be headed for a scenario that might not play out as anticipated. Endorsements are great, but when unsolicited, they pose a 50-50 chance that it might not go the way you intended. What if the potential employer has another individual in mind for the job, and no matter what kind of glowing recommendation you provide, the candidate you are supporting (your current employee) doesn’t get the offer? This type of outcome could potentially result in a defamation lawsuit, if the employee feels as though instead of helping, you sabotaged the potential offer. I have seen these circumstances go both ways with some heading south with no warning and my advice to all caring managers whom sincerely want their team members to excel, whether it be at their company or another (and I do believe that was your intention), to clear it with the employee first.”
“I would be having an open discussion with the employee about their reasons for wanting to leave and look at possible career avenues with them. If there were none, then absolutely I would support them looking elsewhere for their own career development and growth. I definitely wouldn’t bypass the employee and speak to the potential employer directly. Isn’t this why we have reference checks?”
“Glowing recommendation or not, it was unsolicited and, in my opinion, inappropriate.”
“It takes integrity and courage to provide an opportunity to another, while leaving a void for yourself. In the long run, selflessness benefits all—the receiver and the giver. The world would be a better place if more people stopped thinking of themselves as the only priority.”
“This post was a bit bizarre and read like, ‘so I had drinks with another aristocrat and having all of the information and all of the power and all of the control, I decided to do the right thing. Then, I decided to tell everyone, so I get virtue-signaling credit.’ 🙃😬😬 It’s really how it sounds. It’s realllllly how it sounds.”
“Wow. This is a fantastic way to treat people as people and not as objects. Kudos to you, Jerry!”
“I have always told my direct reports to tell me when they are looking for new opportunities. It is a shock when they hear me say this, but trust is earned. I was always a reference and, in the end, everyone was a winner. I am still in touch with over 60% of the people who reported to me over the years.”
“I am in awe! I Learned something very new today from you, Jerry Meyer. Thanks for the very thoughtful and deep insight you have…just amazing! 👏”
“Well, this post kicked up a bit of a hornets nest of controversy rarely seen on LinkedIn. I agree with the nay-nay crowd. Unless the employee solicits you personally for a reference, you have no business offering one.”
“What a great thing to read. This is so true what you said, ‘There are few things that damage a person’s morale more than coming to work day after day, feeling that you are trapped in a job.’”
With 6 million views and roughly 70,000 comments, the post brings up important issues. With the best of intentions, contacting a potential new boss seems to breach a person’s privacy. There’s the real risk that the employee doesn’t get the job and could blame the current boss for sabotaging the situation.
In the real world, back-door reference checks are done all the time, but it’s not good form. It places the person in jeopardy, as they’re “outed” in their job search. If the person doesn’t receive an offer or after interviewing feels that it’s not the right fit, it will be awkward and uncomfortable to return to their old job.
The person is placed in an untenable predicament. They’ll worry that the boss will view them as a “flight risk,” who will leave at the next best opportunity. Every time the employee is late for an online meeting or doesn’t quickly respond to a Slack request or email, the manager may feel that they’re speaking with recruiters or in an interview.
Like many things in the office, to avoid pitfalls and problems, it’s a smart practice for leadership to routinely ask people how they are doing, especially during these difficult times. If, as Jerry said, the person was “maxed out” in their career at his company, as the CEO, he should initiate a conversation with the employee.
In this discussion, they could explore possibilities within the organization. If there isn’t any room for advancement, the person may still want to stay for the foreseeable future, due to personal reasons. Should the worker say that he’s not happy with the lack of upward mobility, the CEO and employee could arrive on a timetable to move on. If the person tells his boss that it’s okay to reach out to potential employers, in an effort to land the person in a good role with growth potential, then everything is out in the open.
In a telephone call, Meyer shared that he held conversations with the employee. Additionally, he said that whenever a person is interviewed and hired, he would let them know that he’d offer training and mentorship. However, Meyer said, if there is a point when there is a lack of forward momentum, he’d be honest and transparent with the employee.
It was mutually agreed upon that there wasn’t any further room to grow. Meyer said that he wouldn’t have done the person any favors by letting him remain at the company, as there wouldn’t be any new challenges. The worker would stagnate, years would pass, and he’d lose out on interesting offers.
The best option was to seek out another opportunity that provided a future. Meyer said that his phone call was made with the best of intentions. He didn’t think that his actions would have garnered so much attention. For the people who applauded his gesture, the CEO contends that many workers have been so mistreated that they appreciated a leader speaking up for and helping out an employee, even if it meant losing him.