If you're being abused, harassed, or bullied at work, please stop reading, and look for options on stopbullying.org, the US EEOC, or the US CIS.

...

Full disclosure: this isn't about destroying employers. It's about making a difference instead of venting online.

I get it. You feel a TON of resentment, and probably also feel like your direct manager is PART of the problem. Talking with them directly is NOT an option.

If your experiences have been anything like mine, there may have been a build up of irritation over time, like a slow burn. There may also have been 1 or 2 (or 10) intensely offensive things that pushed you over the edge.

Give a quick YES or NO to the following questions:

  • Do you prefer to receive obnoxiously aggressive feedback in public?
  • Is the bad behavior at your company present in most or all employees?
  • Does your manager know how badly they're failing?
  • Are your peers out to get you personally? Can you prove it?
  • Is your company perfect?
  • Is your team perfect?
  • Are your peers perfect?
  • Are you perfect?

It's INEVITABLE that companies have problems. It's GUARANTEED that people won't be valued as much as they'd like. You're at risk of hurting many people and helping no one but yourself.

Instead, give yourself the BEST CHANCE to affect real change. No one ever sold an idea by putting someone on the defensive or by mocking them.

Let's work together so you can hit hard AND have an impact.

Photo by Michelle Phillips

Here are your input options based on Glassdoor's form:

Overall Rating

This is a 100% subjective 1-5 star rating. It would be awful to leave a review that gets ignored because it's so extreme. To increase the chance that we're paid attention to, let's put up some guardrails.

For each YES, add a star:

  • Is the company going to be successful financially? (+1 star)
  • Has the company invested in positive cultural change in the past 6 months? (+1 star)
  • Do you feel safe giving your direct manager feedback in a 1:1? (+1 star)
  • Has the company terminated any bad actors, or publicly spoken out against their bad behavior? (+1 star)
  • Do the most influential leaders practice what they preach? (+1 star)

You're on the road to balance and credibility! Bonus: your answers here will feed into PROs and CONs later on.

Review Headline

We'll do this later. Trust me. 🙏

Pros

PRO and CON can be thought of as "arguments for" or "arguments against" something.

If I'm researching a company and I see "ping pong table" in the PRO column, that's going to deteriorate the credibility of the author. I can smell imbalance and reactionary writing a mile away.

Here's an example of a credible PRO on the topic of Gun Control (citations omitted):

Guns are rarely used in self-defense. Of the 29,618,300 violent crimes committed between 2007 and 2011, 0.79% of victims (235,700) protected themselves with a threat of use or use of a firearm, the least-employed protective behavior. In 2010 there were 230 "justifiable homicides" in which a private citizen used a firearm to kill a felon, compared to 8,275 criminal gun homicides (or, 36 criminal homicides for every "justifiable homicide"). Of the 84,495,500 property crimes committed between 2007 and 2011, 0.12% of victims (103,000) protected themselves with a threat of use or use of a firearm.

Here's a version for a tech startup or company that builds off of this model:

Catered lunch is provided 5 days a week. The company feeds hundreds of people every day and has a decent cafe space with seating for 30 or so people. Most lunches have vegetarian options, and occasionally lunch is 100% vegan.

If I saw 2-3 PROs like this on a 3-star review, I'd give WAY more credence to the CONs.

Cons

Here we go. Time to really dig down and think critically about what's broken.

What are some behaviors that have had a significant negative impact on the success of the company? Here are some ideas:

  • Negative gossip / echo chamber / negative mentalities
  • Unaddressed poor performance from influential person/people
  • Unfriendly competition with peers
  • Lack of empathy / trust / rapport with your boss

Now, what would your boss do if they read these? Would they think "oh wow, I've gotta work on that", or would they think "well that's not me"?

You wanna be heard, you gotta make the problem CLEARER not complicated. To do that, try the 5 whys approach. Here's an (made-up) example:

What: A bunch of people in sales act bro-ey at social events and I feel alienated.

  • Why #1: I feel alienated because their social norms are so different from mine
  • Why #2: My social norms are based on smaller, more intimate friendships
  • Why #3: I prefer forming deeper connections with people in relaxed settings
  • Why #4: In relaxed settings, I feel heard, and I can listen better
  • Why #5: Listening better helps me find things I have in common with others.

OK, so now what? Well, let's compare the impact of sharing our What above versus considering our Whys. Which is more actionable?

CON: A bunch of people in sales act bro-ey at social events and I feel alienated.

or

CON: I don't feel like I have anything in common with the sales team, so I don't enjoy socializing with them.

Better, I think.

Note that I didn't dig into why the sales team behaves the way they do. Focus on what you can change and what you can prove, otherwise you risk making broad statements based on partial observations, and credibility suffers. Talk about YOU.

Here's another CON, courtesy of our Gun Control example (citations omitted):

Gun control efforts have proved ineffective. According to David Lampo, Publications Director of the Cato Institute, "there is no correlation between waiting periods and murder or robbery rates." Banning high-capacity magazines will not necessarily deter crime because even small gun magazines can be changed in seconds. The "gun show loophole" is virtually nonexistent because commercial dealers, who sell the majority of guns at shows and elsewhere, are bound by strict federal laws. According to a Mar. 10, 2016 Lancet study, most state-level gun control laws do not reduce firearm death rates, and, of 25 state laws, nine were associated with higher gun death rates.

Not a great cause, but it is balanced and evidence-based.

Let's do one more CON example. Here's a modified CON that I pulled from a company on Glassdoor:

There's no management training or mentorship, and this often results in very inexperienced employees managing others with little oversight.

So oversight is the solution? I'll bet the next response would be "micromanagement ravaged our team!". This was a poorly conceived CON.

If we try our 5 Whys again (once again, I can only speculate, but you can do the exercise for real):

What: There's no management training or mentorship, and this often results in very inexperienced employees managing others with little oversight.

  • Why #1: ???
  • Why #2: ???
  • Why #3: ???
  • Why #4: ???
  • Why #5: ???

Hrm. We've run into a wall here. Why's that?

This CON fails to include any "I" statements. We don't know if the employee was affected by mis-management, and we don't know if they're suffering or successful. Also, this could be defamation (a false statement of fact, not opinion).

Share your personal experiences and don't make broad statements on behalf of others without their permission.

Advice to Management

This should be short and sweet. Refer back to the YES/NO questions from our rating, and anything that was a NO should be added here.

I do not feel safe giving my direct manager feedback, and ALL employees should feel safe doing so. Also, our Director of BI is praised despite failing to live by 2 of our leadership principles. Be mindful of the company's integrity.

Last, a Review Headline that counts!

Grab your two STRONGEST points. These could be 2 PROs, 2 CONs, a mix. Make these your Review Headline.

Guns rarely used in self-defense, but gun control efforts prove ineffective.

or

Catered lunch 5 days a week, but company invests in one kind of fun for one personality type (not mine)

or

My boss personally cares about me, but promotion is post-hoc/reactive

or

I learn SO MUCH about distributed systems every day, but the drinking in the office makes me uncomfortable

Please be your best self

Sorry for the bait and switch headline 🙏. I want this in the hands of people who are in that critical moment where they're feeling SO ANGRY that they are googling the best way to hurt people.

I've been there, and at the end of the day, you gotta do you. I get it. If you're painted into a corner, and if you gotta do the thing, then do the thing. However, the best people I know take responsibility for their thoughts and actions.

Take a few deep breaths, and give them a reason to be better.

Photo by Icons8 team

Further reading

Hero photo by Gabriel Matula