Twitter – OK, maybe I DON’T get it…

This is a tale of a job interview a while back that left my brain spinning. No company names disclosed here – no sour grapes, either. The bottom line – the hiring manager wanted all status reports via an enterprise Twitter tool – “If you can’t put a status in 140 characters or less, you’re not thinking concisely enough.” the manager explained. I don’t get it…

I interview for a “real job” once every few years – I frankly enjoy being self employed – a lot… But once in a blue moon, a job opportunity surfaces that is so intriguing that I apply for it. This particular job was essentially a product manager with financial responsibilities and a small staff to communicate requirements and administer internal commitments with software development, manufacturing, support, sales and marketing organizations and external commitments with a hardware manufacturer partner and the primary customers. The job was “right up my alley” with a product that I was passionate about and an expert on in the industry. I recall thinking that I had this “in the bag”. NOT.

In the interview, the hiring manager posed a hypothetical situation and asked me to send him a sample status report by e-mail over lunch. I sent a one-page report with one significant accomplishment, two significant problems that were “under control”, and one small issue that posed a risk of become something much bigger if circumstances changed in a particular way. The hiring manager said, “I won’t have the time to read this – this is too much information… I will want you to Twitter the status.” What? I don’t get it… I asked, “How many tweets a day do you look for?” “Oh, sometimes none, maybe one or two – no more than that…” the manager said. “How often do you like to talk about status?” I asked. “Only when there’s a real problem, but I don’t want problems, just solutions.”

Huh? Risk and opportunity hide in nuance. How can you communicate nuance in a one-liner? I just don’t get it… At this point, I am telling myself that this is a disaster in the making – one I can rescue this company from, but one that may come with a lot of grief. I put on my “product face” and focus our conversation after lunch on the pertinent relationships I have in the industry particularly with the hardware partner and the proven expertise I have with this particular product area. I’m going for this job – I want this job – I live for a challenge! I really do!

I don’t get the job. I am REALLY disappointed.

A recent chance meeting with this hiring manager after a year or so had past gave me an opportunity to ask what soured him in my interview? His frank answer – “You weren’t using Twitter – you weren’t even using FaceBook. You would have been difficult for me to manage.” On its face, I understand that answer – a manager has a style, and a direct report in a key position has to accommodate the manager’s style. A direct report’s communication style can be crucial to the success of a working relationship – I get that.

But I don’t get Twitter as a management tool – Twitter is a casual “chatting” tool focused on “one-liners”. Tweets can convey context – who, what, when and where in real time, and there may be some real value in that, but a tweet doesn’t convey nuance. You have to mine for nuance if you are going to win the war – you have to look past the context and dig into the underlying “story” in order to step past risk and jump on your opportunities before the competition does.

OK, maybe I DON’T get Twitter, but on this one, I don’t think the hiring manager got it… I still don’t “tweet”, but, well, I AM on FaceBook now!

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: