Businessman standing on the rooftop of a skyscraperSuppose the CEO of your company is on his or her way to a meeting. You admire the CEO, and having never even spoken to him or her, you build up the courage to ask the head honcho to take a picture with you. Surprisingly, the CEO complies, and you two snap a “Kodak moment” together.

You’re on cloud nine as you leave the office. Yet, when you return in the morning, a please-meet-with-HR-immediately email is screaming at you from your inbox. Before you have the chance to get comfortable in your chair, the HR guy tells you, “Employees aren’t allowed to take pictures with the CEO. You’re fired.”


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the case of Christopher Moore, Joel Williams and the example above, is it worth your job?

Moore and Williams were two Reliant Stadium security guards who were both recently fired for taking a photo with New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. As the story goes, the two guards asked Brady to take a photo with him after Sunday’s (12/1/13) game against the Houston Texans. Although Brady willingly took the photos, the guards were fired soon after.

The Yahoo! Sports story says,

“Immediately after I took the picture, I got ran down by a supervisor,” Williams said. “They didn’t really give a reason. They said, you know, you’re wrong and you’re fired.”

Apparently, the two men worked for Contemporary Services Corporation, the company that handles staffing for Texans games. Yahoo! reported that the company released a statement about the incident saying:

It is strictly against CSC policy for its employees to request photos or autographs from players. CSC stands by its decision to terminate the two employees who violated this policy.

This unfortunate incident made me think about those in higher positions of authority in businesses, such as CEOs, and whether or not this no-pics-allowed policy would be a best practice within an organization.

The writer of the Yahoo! story noted:

As annoying as the NFL’s do-not-look-the-players-in-the-eye-you-peasants stance is, it’s understandable; if players had to run a gauntlet of autograph- and photo-seeking employees every time they stepped out of the locker room, nothing would ever get done.

Do not look players (or anyone “important”) in the eye, mere peasants. That’s the way this type of policy comes off, doesn’t it? While I can certainly understand how request after request can weary a pro-athlete, is the same true for a CEO?

Sure, the CEO of a small business may not get asked to take pictures each day, but what about people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Donald Trump or Michael Jordan (in his case, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats)? I’m sure plenty of the people who work for these higher ups and others admire them and/or are fans. Should they lose their jobs if they ask the head boss for a photo op?

While I can understand a staffing company having this policy (as it most likely sends out various people to different jobs on a day-to-day basis), I don’t think it’s good for business in general. This the-CEO-is-too-important-for-you attitude can certainly damage employee morale and engagement.

Every worker wants to feel like he/she is a part of the team. Do you know how honored, recognized and just doggone happy an employee would feel if the CEO or founder of his/her workplace actually took the time to recognize that employee, whether it be through taking a photo or saying hello? Giving workers a portion of their time—even if it’s the short time it takes to snap a photo—tells them that the major players in their workplace actually value them—the supposed “lower level” people.

No one desires to work for an “untouchable” CEO, CFO, COO, etc. People work for organizations because they not only agree with their missions, but most often respect and admire the companies’ CEOs and founders.

Presenting your CEO as “untouchable” can negatively impact a worker (even when the policy wasn’t designed to do so) and show him/her that, in comparison to how employees may feel, the level of respect your company offers workers isn’t mutual.

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