Your reputation precedes you

Ignoring it won’t make it go away

I was working with a client a few weeks ago who was struggling to find, attract and hire the people she needed to help her company grow to the next level.  She had historically hired junior level talent and paid them reasonably for their skills, but was surprised when these junior employees didn’t have the drive and initiative she needed.  She also had some disappointing turnover because of the mismatch between what she wanted in these employees and what they were capable of.  As a result, she has been given several negative reviews on Glassdoor. The president’s approach to these has been to ignore them – which, on the surface might seem like a good idea.

Your brand is everything when you are a small and growing business.  But, not many founders extend that brand through to the hiring process.  Think about it – your customers, as well as potential employees, have access to the interest.  Yelp, Google and Glassdoor are all available to anyone.  Let’s talk about how to build and protect your employment brand so that you have access to the high-level talent you will need to grow your company.

  1. Define the character and competencies you need in advance. Make a physical list of the character traits that successful employees have and the competencies that you need each team member to possess in order to do the job.  Then, brainstorm a list of questions that will help you evaluate each.  Get input from your top performers – you’ll be surprised at what they come up with!
  2. Lead by example. The days of “do as I say not as I do,” are over.  Founders and executives – actually all leaders – must walk the walk.  Your reputation is only as good as the example you set.  As a leader, every word and step is scrutinized continuously.  That doesn’t mean you aren’t human – but it does mean that when you make a mistake you must own it – loudly and proudly – and then move on.
  3. Address negative comments. Glassdoor seems to be the one reputation site that business owners ignore, thinking that no one really looks at these reviews.  It’s an unfortunate reality that negative reviews seems to happen organically and positive reviews happen with intent.  Generally speaking, when a company proactively manages their employment reputation you will find a bunch of positive stuff – and when a company doesn’t manage their reputation, you will find negative comments.  It’s important to address the negative – and the positive – comments on Glassdoor.  As a leader, you must read, absorb and respond in a non-defensive manner and with grace.  It’s important that your review delivers the message that not everyone is right for your team and that you wish them all the best in the future.
  4. Correct behavior privately. When you are a small company or a startup everyone knows everything about what’s happening.  If one person makes a mistake you can be assured that the entire team knows it.  Startup founders need to be especially sensitive to this.  We all know that you praise publicly and criticize privately.  When your office is a single room that’s harder to do.  Your corrective discussions may need to happen on a walk, at a coffee meeting or somewhere outside the workplace.  Help yourself and your team save face – you’ll benefit from it.
  5. Treat EVERY contact point as a VIP. On the surface, it makes sense to include comments on your career page like – “Phone calls will not be accepted,” or “Submissions without cover letters will be rejected.”  However, the translation is a public statement that you aren’t interested in hearing from real people.  It’s not just potential employees you are turning off – you are also delivering that message to potential customers.  Be open, inviting and engaging in EVERY communication you deliver.

Reputation is a consideration for not only your customers but your future employees.  After all, your employees impact your customer reputation.  And finally, consider this – each person you interact with is either a potential customer or employee or knows a potential customer or employee.  For more ideas on defending your employment brand, visit us here!

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