Ask The Capitalist: How Do I Deal With Personal Reputation Sabotage on Glassdoor?

Kris Dunn Employee Coaching, Kris Dunn

Editor’s Note: Our Founder, Kris Dunn, has been doing his own thing at The HR Capitalist since 2007.  The “Ask The Capitalist” feature has been a staple of that blog, but we’re bringing it to FOT with a reputation sabotage question forwarded by one of KD’s readers.

A reader asks…

“I know it’s a big ask, but you are the only one I can think of that can help with this delicate problem. Here goes and thanks for taking the time to read this:

I have reason to believe that an outsider is trying to discredit one of my employees by writing a negative comment on our company on Glassdoor. There are pieces of information included in the text on Glassdoor that will clearly identify the person in question if you do a bit of research (position and location, and there’s only one of her). I am fairly certain that it is not my employee who posted this, but someone who wants to damage her (bad blood in the previous firm: broken relationship and now he is exacting her revenge, having vowed in public to destroy her. Messy…). The employee in question is new to our company, and she would be pretty stupid to post a negative comment that clearly identified her in her early days right?  

Even if I don’t act, the damage is done. Our Divisional leader brought this post on Glassdoor to my attention, so rather than damaging our employee, it’s damaging me, and my standing in the the company…even if my hunch is right, it’s a bit hard to sell to our Divisional leader… What to do? Can one appeal to Glassdoor to reveal info on who posts in a case like this?

I know you have tons of emails so if you can find some time to give me advice I’d be very grateful. I am not well versed in Glassdoor and am at a bit of a loss as to how to handle this…”

–James from Denver


Hi James –

Interesting scenario for sure, but given the ease of creating a anonymous profile on Glassdoor, I’m sure this isn’t the first time it’s happened.  It’s easy to get in your own head about this.  I think your path here is pretty clear:

  1. You should ask your employee whether they created the post critical of your company on Glassdoor. I’d do that in a consulting/”let’s work to make it better” manner.  Don’t let it be a gotcha moment to the employee (although it’s going to feel like that), approach the conversation with a spirit of a) I saw this, b) it looks like you, and c) if it is you, I want to help make things better for you here. You feel like it’s not your employee, but you should play it this way in case it is.  If it is her, you want the best shot at creating a conversation where she admits to that and you can work to try and make things better for her.
  2. Let’s say she adamantly denies the review is hers, and points to the creep who trolled her on Glassdoor.  At that point, things get a bit messy.  My experience is that you can get reviews removed on Glassdoor if they clearly ID a person in the company – but that’s usually an employee who’s naming another employee or manager in the review in a derogatory way.  I think it might work in the circumstance you’re describing – I think you would have to have the convo with the employee in question in a graceful way and have them be horrified in the aforementioned manner – then you might have a chance to flag the review, explain the circumstances and get it removed.  I say all of this with the limitation that I haven’t see the review – the more it clearly IDs who they are, the better your chances are in my eyes.

Of course, the flag/review process at Glassdoor makes cable companies look like Nordstrom’s.  Glassdoor won’t acknowledge your flag, won’t tell you where it is in the process, won’t close out a ticket in relationship to a decision that’s been made, etc.  It’s awful to try and rectify something like this on Glassdoor.  To put additional pressure on them, I’d point to the potential domestic intimidation and try and shake them into actually responding.  All of that assumes that your conversation nets the reaction you expect from your employee.  It might actually be easier to deal with/get closure if the employee actually said, “yeah that’s me”.  With that, at least you could use your coaching skills to try and resolve it – but of course, your Divisional leader would still be gunning for her, and perhaps you as well.  What a turd sandwich.

Finally, if you pay Glassdoor for services, I would apply heavy pressure on your account rep to see if you can get better service on this issue.

Next up on Ask the Capitalist – Employees who use Twitter burner accounts to criticize the leadership team of your company!