Our family did something we had never done before. Since our childhood my wife and I both have always had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home. In 2014 we decided to do something different, we decided to take a family trip with the three kids to a place none of us had been before to have a Thanksgiving vacation. We picked Nashville, Tennessee and started planning. We knew one family there and reached out to them to schedule a visit, but the rest of the time including where to eat Thanksgiving dinner was an open book. We looked to a very familiar website to find a place to rent, airbnb.com. If you have not been to that website, it is a great place to go to search for vacation rentals. We like to stay in a home versus a hotel if we are going for more than one or two nights. We searched and searched, read reviews, looked at pictures, and finally settled on a little cottage located on a dairy farm about 35 minutes southeast of Nashville. It did not disappoint and we stayed there six nights enjoying farm life, but were close enough to explore the music in the city. What really saved us was airbnb.com and the reviews. We based our decision to stay there literally on the opinion of people we had never met, we trusted complete strangers to guide our vacation. We trusted people who more than likely come from a different background than us, follow different values and who we might have nothing in common. But since we didn’t know any of this, we trusted their opinion explicitly, enough to throw down hard earned money.
We tend to do this a lot online in many different ways. We look for reviews for just about everything that we purchase but when it comes to choosing a job, we are very limited on what we can do. We can look at financial reports and company history and maybe even talk to a few former employees but do we really trust any of that? At the end of the day the most fundamental reason we would choose a place to work is based upon our impression of the leader who we will work with and for. If the company was extremely profitable and your pay would increase by 50% and the mission was literally changing the world but you knew the boss would drive you crazy and work you to death keeping you away from your family, you would probably look elsewhere. How do we find this information out about the leader? There is no airbnb.com for leaders, no 300 bestbuy.com reviews to read. There is LinkedIn, but that is so controlled by the individual that I do not put much faith in it as far as making a decision to work somewhere. Glassdoor.com has some good information but it is getting a reputation for a place to go about complaining and we all know there is two sides to every story. The truth is there is nowhere to really go to get a reputation dashboard on a leader. Astute leaders know this about candidates and understand that as much as people come to work for the money and the mission, they stay for the relationship. The more information the leader can provide about themselves to people looking to join their organization the easier it will be for people to make a decision about joining.
Google yourself, what is out there? What is your online reputation? With the amount of information generated about individuals there exists a reputation. In five and ten years it will be even greater. There will eventually be an airbnb.com equivalent for people and they will have no control over what is said. Eventually your credit score will be made available to employees, your marital status, any legal issues, drug history etc. Anything we wouldn’t want out there will be out there and we won’t have control. Look at airbnb.com, do you think that some of the property owners out there want some of those reviews out there? Me neither but that is the risk they take by putting themselves out there with what they think is a good product. What can you do as a leader, how can you ensure that airbnb.com rating is as high as can be? There is only one way for me, put yourself out there. Try and take a leading role in the information that is available about you online. That is in large part why Chris and I write every week, we put ourselves out there so no one has to guess who we are. My dad had a reputation in his industry long before the internet so having a reputation is not new. What is new is access to a lot of data and visibility of that data to a lot of people. My dad worked in Chicago, recruited people from Chicago, and rarely left the city. Today, for just about any job, recruiting is nationwide if not global and all of these people have access to the same information and are thinking the same thing, I wonder what that leader is like. Your best edge in recruiting good people is to give them a way to find out as much about you as possible so they don’t have to guess. No one is expecting perfection, but they do want information so they can make a decision.
The vacation to Nashville was absolutely awesome. The cottage although small was great. We loved staying on the farm, hanging with the goats and horses but having access to the city to check out the awesome music scene in Nashville. The downside, Thanksgiving dinner at a state park in Tennessee. My airbnb.com rating for that is ½ star out of five. I am grateful to everyone who reviewed that farm cottage and help guide my family there. My goal is to try and do that for anyone entertaining the idea of coming to work for my organization.
I see a new business opportunity:
AIRLEADER.COM – An online place to go to anonymously review leaders, their character, and their performance. Does this sound like your leader? 3.5 stars for trust, 3 stars for communication, 4 stars for rewarding, 2 stars for engagement, 3 stars for vision, 5 stars for long lunches.
It is only a matter of time!