You are a CEO/entrepreneur, and you have started your own company. You were a terrific salesperson, maybe a developer with a great idea. A marketing whiz who can do it better. Maybe you bought a franchise so you can be your own boss. Whatever you were, now you are in charge, the main person. You are going to do it your way, be employee-friendly, hire great people.
Treat employees well, and they will work their tail off for themselves and for your company, unless they aren't the right fit. Then either you will make the hard decision to let them go, or they will quit. Either way, it's not fun. Confrontation sucks. Either you have to tell someone it's not right, or they tell you it's not right. Like any break up, you wish it didn't come to this. No one enters any relationship, professionally or personally, hoping it will end.
And now in 2018, we have anonymous reviews (Google, Yelp, Glassdoor) designed to give someone who doesn't know a view from someone who does. Helpful? Sometimes. Spiteful? Sometimes. Biased? Yes. If something is great, it's biased. If something is terrible, it's biased.
When someone writes an overwhelmingly negative review of our company (and me), I wonder why? If they state they're still employed, I wonder why they would stay at a company they hate when unemployment is 4.1 percent. I wonder if they are still here or if they left years ago and are casting stones. I don't know, and thinking about it doesn't help.
My advice for negative reviews is the same as positive reviews: look between the lines. Don't believe the hype of how great your organization is, and don't get so much anxiety about the negative reviews. (This doesn't apply to retail companies and Yelp reviews. I know how bad that can be, and that's not my business. I'm writing about B2B companies primarily.)
A friend of mine who has a company with less than 100 employees got a negative review from someone, and it was crushing to him. I know as I have felt the same way. I said to him that when a review of a company is based on opinion and is negative, it's no different than going to eat at an ethnic restaurant and hating the food. Your review can go one of two ways: I tried an ethnic restaurant, and I didn't care for the food, or it just wasn't for me so I didn't like it.
Or, in the case of purely negative reviews it could go like this: The food was terrible. It came out way too hot. It was overly spicy and the waiter didn't tell me. In fact, I couldn't even understand the waiter, which made it a challenge for someone who isn't a regular to understand it. It was half empty so obviously I'm not the only one who doesn't like it.
As a leader of a company, you can't fight battles when you don't know who you're up against. Like political debates on television, when one side yells and interrupts, you can't have a logical conversation. If an employee doesn't have the desire to talk about why they dislike their manager, HR or leadership, and why they don't care to build relationships with them, they aren't right for your company.
I'm not saying there aren't things you can learn. You may be a hard liner or not always know what your managers are saying, so listen. But don't get carried away and throw the baby out with the bathwater.
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