Flip the Script on Negative Feedback
Even though I am often mistaken for Amy Poehler, and have been asked literally more than one thousand times, “Do you know who you look like?” I am pretty sure I could never actually BE a celebrity. The “online digital” age we live in is a breeding ground for meanness. Generally, cowardly meanness of those who hide their keyboard and throw insults (often anonymously) any and every chance they get.
We sometimes forget people on the other end of screen are humans. Yet cyber bullying of businesses, peers, and celebrities is rampant in our society. My ten year old is a working actor in LA and I am not sure I will be able to handle it if she ever actually “makes it big”. My daughter was recently the victim of an online troll who spent hours (it must have taken all night) to post negative comments on about a year’s worth of Instagram posts. Things like “You are so ugly how are you a model?” or “I don’t even know you, you are irrelevant as an actor”. My daughter was a total champion and handled it like a pro. She actually said “Mom, for someone who hates me that much, they sure spent a lot of time going through all my pictures and on my account.”
If you are a regular reader of Telltale Ten, or know me in a business capacity, it is no secret that culture and employee satisfaction is really what motivates me. I’ve said it before (and at the risk of pissing someone else of), will say it again, I don’t care that much about Market Research. What I do care about is creating an amazing work environment where people are fulfilled personally and professionally and love to come to work every day.
Recently, I visited Glassdoor to see how we were doing. We only have a handful of reviews on there and they are mostly positive. Like 80%+ are great. But it seemed like I could only see the negative ones.
“Stakeholders should hire someone who actually knows something.”
Or how about this one:
“There are no pros because this company is awful.”
“Everyone hates their jobs, but the COO and most upper managers are never there to see it.”
Advice to Management
“Bring in a CEO who knows what they are doing.”
Can you say OUCH?? Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Why the heck is Jacqueline writing a BLOG exposing bad things people say about her and SoapBox?” Good question (give yourself a round of applause – I was also referred to as condescending and disruptive. Up to you to judge that one). When I read these, my heart dropped. My feelings were hurt. I wanted to fix it. I totally get that there will always be a couple of disgruntled employees in the wake of a super-fast growing start up. And I am not everyone’s cup of tea. But I am human, so it bothered me personally, but also made me hyper aware that maybe not everyone is happy and we need to do better. After reading the negative feedback I was faced with the following options:
A. I could have stayed butt hurt and thrown a pity party, feeling sorry for myself and wondering why the work doesn’t love me
B. I could have just got self-righteous and pissed off and dismissed the negative reviews as “irrelevant” people
C. Or use the feedback (albeit unsolicited) as an opportunity to self-reflect and then take action to improve
I choose C.
I went from being sad, to wanting to take an honest look at what improvements I can make as a leader, and what improvements we can make as a company. I called a meeting and those involved were quick to dismiss it as pissed off people who were terminated for not doing their job. I get it. That is probably true. But maybe, there are a few things we can tweak to make things better too.
So we have set out on a mission built around a WRITTEN plan for improving culture led by our Marketing Team. We identified potential areas of dissatisfaction, ways to gauge an ongoing pulse of satisfaction, put pen to paper and came out with a plan that we will be rolling out starting this month. I am SUPER excited about it.
As you move through your days, I urge you to
- Be kind – in person and online
- Remember that people (including celebrities, bosses and politicians – ok maybe not the last one) are humans with feelings
- When ill words are said, don’t dwell, be strong and also look for the lesson
Jacqueline Rosales is the Chief Operating Officer at SoapBoxSample, an online research firm based in Van Nuys, California. Her career includes executive assignments with Luth Research and Directions in Research. Ms. Rosales holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Oregon. Read her blog here, and follow her on Twitter.