Future Friday: How will you handle your public reputation?

Rating sites will make reputations, both company and personal, public knowledge.
Rating sites will make reputations, both company and personal, public knowledge.

We are all aware of sites that allow consumers to rate restaurants or stores, like Yelp, or sites that allow candidates and employees to rate companies, like Glassdoor. But have you thought about the possibility of having sites that allow everyone to rate everything? How would that effect you as an HR professional if your company was rated on its CEO, its employees, its managers, its HR department and even you as the HR manager? This rating would not only be done by outsiders but also insiders. This would be the ultimate transparency and the future of you company’s reputation would rely on the day-to-day management of that reputation.


I came across a fascinating article in The Futurist written by Robert Moran, which was then republished as an amended version by Sodexo in their 2015 Workplace Trends Report. He wrote that there is going to be a new balance of power where consumers, suppliers and employees will be able to control the fortunes of companies by controlling the reputations of those companies. He called this new world a “Rateocracy.” He says that CEO’s in particular will be under the gun to “work harder to align the corporation, its employees, and stakeholders around a shared vision. It will be increasingly difficult to sweep customer service and employee morale problems under the rug. CEOs of the Rateocratic era will have nowhere to hide, so they will have to be strong communicators and even better listeners. They will have to be as transparent as the new era.” My guess is that much of the stress the CEO feels will be transferred to HR as the CEO looks to HR to manage the company reputation.

The trend is underway

At the SHRM Atlanta chapter meeting recently the Vice President of Talent Acquisition for Assurant, Deborah Wilson Thomas, told us the importance of a company’s Glassdoor reputation in attracting talent. According to Moran that trend is going to get larger and larger as more employees and consumers start to use an ever increasing number of rating sites. According to Moran it will not just be companies that will be rated but individuals as well. We will begin to all have our own transparent reputations that we will carry with us throughout our careers. Candidates will not only be able to look up whether they want to work for a company, they will also be able to determine if they want to work for a particular manager based on that manager’s ratings. The anonymity of the big company is going to be stripped away.

What will be the effect?

What will be the effect on corporate performance and personal performance if our reputations become very public pieces of information? Think about it for a moment, in the somewhat anonymous world today we can make a mistake and few people will really know about it. Our reputation may suffer some, but memories fade as time goes on and you have a chance to recover. Under a Rateocracy system and a more public and permanent record you will have less chance to recover from a mistake as it will be part of the permanent rating floating around in the “cloud”. Moran is concerned that a Rateocracy might enforce conformity and reduce risk taking. I guess we will have to wait and see.

How will things change?

How would your behavior change is you knew that you were constantly being rated, and in a public manner, every day? Would bully managers find themselves out of work? Would team members that don’t pull their weight find themselves off the team? Would HR managers who are seen as being a roadblock to employee progress find themselves on a side track? Would everyone make sure they are working their hardest and most effective because this transparency exists? Would you?

The power of social media

Rateocracy certainly puts a great deal more power in the hands of employees. Employees will be able to significantly affect the careers of people and the trajectories of companies. If you in HR are avoiding the use of social media this needs to act as a wake-up call. Having social media skills will become an absolutely critical skill in this new world of reputation management. If you don’t know what your reputation is you will not be able to control it.

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