Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Counterpoint: Why you can't dismiss @Glassdoor

Context: A few years ago I was working for a company.  The work was challenging, but I believed we were doing good in the world.  And then one day, it ended. They were an at-will employer and they had eliminated my department. After eight years, it was "thanks, good luck."  I was thrown for a bit of a loop.  I hadn't kept up-to-date with what was going on out beyond the doors of my organization and I had allowed my resume to drift as I moved around within the organization tackling interesting challenges.

Fast-forward to now. I landed on my feet in a far better position than I could have even dreamed. I'm working with the smartest people I've ever worked with and there's always really interesting challenges and opportunities for growth. But one thing remains the same - the employer is an at-will employer.  I could be gone tomorrow.  I hope not.  But at the end of the day, the business has to answer to its shareholders. If it decides my role is not aligned with its goal of increased profits, I could go. It's nothing personal.

I'm not looking to leave my current employer (hi, boss!) but to make sure I stay in the know, I respond to recruiters who reach out to me. I have a unique skillset that a lot of companies are seeking and I work for a company known for its top-notch people.

So a recruiter recently reached out to me and I looked at the role and the company they were recruiting on behalf of. When I don't know much about the company in question, I'll look at their website and check out Glassdoor.  In this particular case, the company had a 2.1 on Glassdoor.

I asked them about it. Their response was that you shouldn't rely on Glassdoor and sent me a link to this article: 10 Reasons You Shouldn't Trust Glassdoor Reviews.  I thought there was some validity to the author's arguments, but I think there's more to be considered.  So I don't intend to pick apart the original post, but offer my counterpoint:

You can't dismiss Glassdoor. Here's why:

1. We're using it.

Whether you like it or not, we're using Glassdoor to learn more about companies.  Just like a restaurant can't stick its head in the sand and ignore Yelp!, companies cannot afford to plug their ears and go "lalalalalala" whenever Glassdoor is mentioned. Someone who's researching the company on Glassdoor is also showing initiative and discernment. You want to pass the Glassdoor test. You want potential candidates to poke and prod and then respond, satisfied that a relationship with the company you're recruiting for is a relationship they want to participate in.  Onboarding a new employee isn't cheap.  Onboarding a new employee only to have them discover it was a mistake is a big waste of money.  You want informed, inquisitive, proactive candidates.

2. We know how to spot B.S.

Again, Yelp.  Or Amazon.  Any of us worth our salt can smell bad reviews a mile away (and you don't want people who can't tell the difference).  And we're familiar with the idea that bad experiences are more likely to make it into a review than that of someone who's happily plugging away, content in their job.  It takes some work to create multiple reviews, so someone has to really hate you to go to the trouble. Also, the researcher is going to have a positive bias and seek confirmation for what they want the outcome to be. A job seeker wants the company they're thinking about joining to be good, so they will give more weight to positive reviews and less to negative reviews.

3. Where there's smoke... 

The Trending graph is an amazing part of Glassdoor.  It's harder to "game" by people submitting fake reviews and it says a lot.  Got a low score that's getting better over time?  That's a great sign.  Have a high number that was higher a few months ago?  That might give some pause.  (Yelp, please bring this back!)

4. Glassdoor is motivated to make it right

This is a no-brainer. Glassdoor is a for-profit company.  They live and die by their reputation as a legitimate source for on-the-ground insight for how companies are doing. They're going to be fighting bogus reviews and they've made tools for all of us to flag potentially bogus reviews for them to assess as well.  It's not going to be this pristine source of 100% truthiness in all cases, but I think they've established well that they're reliable and that being reliable is important to them.

5. It's a great way to show if you're invested

A brand no longer has 100% control over its own image and reputation.  But, a proactive company will cultivate the image it wants to portray in the areas where its customers are.  So much like investing in a social media strategy, a smart company also invests in a recruiting strategy that includes participation on Glassdoor.  For some companies, that means a generic reply to every review (I almost called this "We know how to spot B.S., part 2") but for other companies, it's a real engagement - responses where necessary, visible attempts to learn and grow from the negative responses, knowing that an engaged and interested potential future employee is going to pick up on this.

So... what if you're recruiting for a company with a low score?

Own it. Be prepared for the question. Know you will lose some who will see the the rating and not respond.  (You may even need to make additional promises, like an increased salary or certain guarantees to protect the candidate from existing unfixed issues.)

Make sure the company is aware of its rating and working to correct it.  Be ready to talk about how.

Watch that trend. Make sure it's on the upswing.  Ask employees -- especially the high-performers -- to post honest reviews.  Don't coerce, don't promise or reward participation.  Be completely above board.

But whatever you do, do not dismiss the candidate or make the candidate feel bad in any way for bringing it up.  That's just bad business.

(Cross-posted on LinkedIn.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Outlook 2016 Mac - Gmail Calendar Notification Keeps Coming Back

Outlook recently added support for Gmail in its Mac desktop client.  I added it and was immediately hit with a calendar notification that would not leave me alone.  I would dismiss it and it would come back 5 seconds later.  I would snooze it and it would come back 5 seconds later.  It was really frustrating.  All of the information online that I could find dealt with resetting profiles, repairing calendars, clearing caches.  None of this worked.

Since the item was on my calendar and I owned the item (a yearly reminder that Sept. 19 is "Talk Like a Pirate Day"), I simply deleted the entry from the calendar (inside Outlook) and the reminder immediately vanished.

Hopefully this helps because you've tried everything else or the other options seem way too drastic (yeah, I'm not telling my IT department that I nuked my Exchange profile) and you were tearing your hair out trying to find a solve.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Penalize the Purchaser @1800flowers

Recently, I bought a gift online.  I knew there'd be a delivery/service charge and they were wise to hide it until the very end because it was a bit outrageous.

To add insult to injury, the more you spent, the bigger the service charge was.

To add insult to injury, the more you spent, the bigger the service charge was.  It wasn't based on weight or items, but on the price you paid.  Spend more, pay more.

This is a penalty when it should have been a reward.  The service charge should have stayed the same, or gone down as I spent more.  Considering the price of the items/upgrades, they could easily absorb a few dollars into the cost to offset the declining service charge.  You can make the same money while simultaneously making the customer feel like they scored.  

Perhaps it's a moot point... they knew I was already invested and didn't want to appear cheap and didn't want to give up the time I'd already put into choosing my gift and building my order, so why should they bother? They got the sale.

But... they lost the next sale.  No matter how much the recipient loves the gift, I'm going to feel like I got a raw deal.

Memo to self: Use Amazon next time. I can't control the delivery as precisely but I can avoid the service charge altogether and it looks like I can get quite a bit more for my money.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Red Car

This toy car has lived in my dresser for decades, until last year when it disappeared. I feared that I had decided to give it away when we were purging for the move to the much smaller house.

So I was happy to find it again recently and put it back where it belongs.

But I also wanted to share it with all of you so that its meaning would be greater than just me because someday (a long time from now hopefully) I will die and then it will probably end up in a box destined for a charity reseller like Goodwill.

So, here's the story of the little red car.

Growing up, I had an Uncle named Jim. When he was a baby, they said he had a hole in his heart and that he was mentally retarded. I expect these days they'd have a more specific diagnosis, but I don't know what it would be. They said he probably would only live to the age of three.

Uncle Jim proved them all wrong. He lived in an assisted care facility, holding a job, going on trips to interesting places around the world planned by the facility, and enjoyed friendships with other residents.

Whenever we visited my mom's parents he would drop by to visit with us. He was one of the happiest people I knew, quick to smile, quick to laugh.

He gave me this car one year as a Christmas present. It didn't have any particular shared backstory, it was just a present he picked out for me and one that has just traveled with me ever since.

Uncle Jim died in 2004 at the age of 51.

And now you're part of the story. Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Toastmaster Questions: Music Theme

Here's some questions around the theme of music. I used most of these at our recent Toastmasters meeting.

  1. A movie about your life is currently the reigning champ at the box office.
  2. After people see the movie, they're going to want the soundtrack. What songs, artists or genres will they be listening to?
  3. What kind of music do you listen to when you're feeling sad to either feed the melancholy or beat the blues?
  4. What's a genre of music you can't stand?
  5. What kind of music do you listen to when you're feeling happy, pumped or on top of the world?
  6. If I found your phone and launched iTunes or Pandora or Spotify, what genre or song would I probably likely hear?
  7. Tell us about a song that makes you feel nostalgic about a previous chapter in your life?
  8. What's your theme song?
  9. Audio Daily Double: Play short clip, ask speaker to describe how it makes them feel.
  10. Tell us about an earworm that has recently plagued you.
  11. You end up at a Billboard Music Awards after-party and someone busts out Karaoke. A duet is announced and you're pushed on stage. Which celebrity in attendance (they're all here) do ask to join you?
  12. What does "the classics" mean to you?
  13. Have you ever made a mix tape for someone? What did you put on it?
  14. What instrument do you think it would be interesting to learn to play? What's keeping you from learning?

I was ready to be offended if anyone called the '80s "the classics" but the guy who answered the question plunged the knife in and then really twisted it when he called music from the '90s "the classics." *sigh* Ok, I get it. I'm old.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Amazing Animations

I came across an email in my inbox from a year ago.  I had been looking up some examples of animation in mobile UI for some project.  I was surprised at how well these have held up - how great some of these animations still look.  For these first three, I only had the URLs for the images, not the pages they came from, sorry.

Plus, here's a whole gallery of great animated mobile UI.  Even after over a year, these still feel fresh and relevant and in some cases, futuristic (and not just because some project out of the device).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What is User-Generated Marketing (UGM)?

User-Generated Marketing, or UGM, is when your customer (or aspirational future customer) advertises your product without any reciprocation. You haven't promised them anything in return - you're not paying them, you're not giving them entries into a contest, there's no affiliate scheme, they're simply painting your product in a positive light and helping others to be confident in their choice to purchase out of the goodness of their heart.

In its simplest form, UGM is simple Word-of-Mouth (WOM) - your customer raves about you on Yelp! or Amazon reviews because they had a great experience and they want others to know about it. (Sure, they may be helping to improve their reputation on the particular platform where they've left the review, but it's not a direct tangible reward or it's an outcome for an accurate review, not necessarily a positive one.)

UGM differs from User-Generated Content (UGC) because whereas UGC shows your product in use (whether it's a video game or a grill), UGM is more about motivating others to make a purchase as well.

There are practical steps you can do to foster UGM - whether it's including your logo on a sticker with the product, or offering up a link in your email that generates a Tweet or Facebook post with some suggested wording or an image.  It could be offering up Memes or animated GIFs that people enjoy sharing.

But, there's one thing you must do more than anything else to turn your customers into an extension of your marketing department. It's not easy, but it's something you must do, something that will set you apart in a big way from those who don't.


Be awesome. Sounds easy, right? It's not.

It's the day-in, day-out focus on surprising and delighting your customers, of anticipating their needs, of having the solutions they need before they even know they need them. It's a commitment to identifying and addressing problems quickly and having values that will support making the tough decisions. It's about being willing to admit when you made a mistake and being open about how you're going to work to avoid those mistakes in the future.

It's about avoiding cutting corners. Doing the right thing, every time. Following the rules not simply to avoid penalty, but because you want to be above reproach. Going above and beyond when the rules or laws are aren't sufficient to truly protect your customers, your employees, your company's future.

It's about empowering your employees to represent you well, and rewarding them when they do so. It's about creating a culture that cares - because when employees feel loved, they will be more loving.

It's about being personable.

When you truly are awesome, it will be impossible to keep your customers from telling the world.

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(cross-posted to Linkedin)