“All I do is work here”

Over the past few months, I've had quite a few interactions with several people who work at a (previously great) brand.

One person will email to ask me for a favor or a connection, and I'll point out that just yesterday, I got three emails, all spam, from three different people at the organization either selling me something irrelevant or sending me a press release I didn't ask for.  And the unsubscribe button doesn't work. And I've unsubscribed ten times before. When I pointed this out, he said, "Oh, that's those guys. I'm not related to them, all I do is work here. If you don't like getting that stuff, you should take it up with them."

Then, a few days ago, I heard from someone in a different group at the same company, asking for help with a project she was working on. I explained that the last time I helped someone in her group with a project, I was misquoted, my time was wasted and they violated whatever trust we had. Susan said, and I'm quoting precisely the same line, "All I do is work here. They pay my salary, but I'm me, not them."

No, Susan, you are them.

The reason your brand is falling apart is because so many of your colleagues are saying the same thing, denying the same responsibility. Consumers don't believe (or care) that there are warrens and fiefdoms and monarchies within your company. All they know is that you leverage that brand name every day, as you have for decades, but now, instead of using that brand to polish your reputation as an individual, you're being forced to accept responsibility for the actions of others.

Do you really think someone who worked for Bernie Madoff will go far with this line? "I'm not Bernie, I just worked with him every day and took a great salary when times were good…" Not sure what the difference is. It's even worse in your case, because you know what's happening. You know, but you don't want to do anything about it.

If you're not proud of where you work, go work somewhere else. You don't get the benefit of the brand when it's hot without accepting the blame of the brand when it's wrong.