Simon Leslie

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Glassdoor news: is it fair play in the job market?

It was recently announced in the news that a Japanese firm is about to buy the job search site Glassdoor. It raises the legitimate question, do they know what they are letting themselves in for?

On April 29 2018, I wrote a review on Glassdoor of my ficticious time working for Glassdoor (I have never set foot in their offices). This was to prove that the website, far from shining a light on how companies truly operate, has a weak system for checking for the accuracy of reviews and could be seen as an anonymous forum for disgruntled ex-employees. They published it…

There was no check to see if I had ever been employed at Glassdoor and certainly no filter for accuracy – otherwise they may have noticed something Ink-teresting in the wording! By the time you are reading this, my guess is that the post will have been removed but let’s see…how fast they can react to their very own ‘fake news’?!  

Tyrant or genius? 

Now, let’s think…for 35 years Sir Alex Ferguson (Aberdeen FC, 1978 – 1984 and Manchester United 1986 – 2013) was arguably the most prolific and consistent leader of a football team anywhere in the world. People see him as a visionary, a motivator, an inspiring figurehead to his team. Would that have come across fairly on Glassdoor during his reign? Let’s imagine what those Glassdoor reviews could have been like for a moment:

“Shamble of a business”

Ex Player – Central Midfielder

Doesn’t recommend  Negative outlook  Disapproves of manager

I have been working at Manchester United full time (More than a year)


Won lots of medals and trophies


Terrible drinking and gambling culture, sexist environment, pay equality was non-existent. Poor leadership and always criticising and shouting at his team mates. Appalling management team who just kissed his arse. 

Advice to management

Don’t overlook the youth in the company

“Passive aggressive environment”

Ex Player – Defender

Doesn’t recommend  Negative outlook  Disapproves of manager

I was working at Manchester United full time (more than ten years)




Leaders throwing football boots and hairdryers. Totally inconsistent management. Bloody narcissist.

Advice to management

Try being nice for a change

“Too much favouritism”

Ex Player – Goalkeeper

Doesn’t recommend  Negative outlook  Disapproves of manager

I have been working at Manchester United full time (more than a year)


Eric is a great poet


This business has its favourites and no matter how many karate kicks they throw at the crowd, the leadership will protect and support them. Always expects us to do overtime for no extra money. No matter how well we do. He always expects more. Lots of new expensive foreign players being signed meaning no jobs for us English lads.

Advice to management

You’ll win more with kids

“No one is safe in this business”

Ex Player – Central Midfielder

Doesn’t recommend  Negative outlook  Disapproves of manager

I have been working at Manchester United full time (more than a year)


Job for a captain now


Watched the main man get fired today, no notice – just thrown out the business. The leader has no patience for anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

Advice to management

Take your tartan cheeks back to Scotland 

Ok, so I said it was imaginary, but you get my drift? 

What we know is that Sir Alex led his players to local, national and international success by driving his players to work harder than they believed was even possible when they were on a losing streak. And when they were winning, he made them go that bit further to maintain their premier position with a gruelling mind and body training schedule. And it worked. For so many years he was the best manager in the business and subsequently on the global lecturing circuit, talking to business students at Harvard and other leading universities about leadership. Was/is he a perfect leader? It depends on who you ask.  

The Ink work ethic

I run a global travel business, where fifty percent of my team are in sales, mainly millennials and those starting their first full time job. They’re not professional footballers but we treat them like a high achieving sports team: they meet with full time performance coach staff, they get treatment from professional physios and health and wellness advice to help them work at their optimum level. 

We offer many incentivised travel trips to the most amazing places on the globe – weekends in New York and Paris, holidays in The Maldives, skiing in Vale – we are proud that our staff have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. As I write this we have just confirmed that an employee, who’s been with the company for less than a month, has earned a trip to Hong Kong.

Alongside these unprecedented incentives comes sheer hard work and determination. We have managers who bring the best out of people and will not be satisfied with poor performance and failure.  We run a true meritocracy where those who want to challenge themselves can taste the success others only dream of. My job is not to get my people to believe in me, but to get them to believe more in themselves.

While we strive to recruit the most capable and hungry staff that want to live and breathe the dream, our business is subjected to inaccurate and insulting posts on Glassdoor – an unregulated forum for the anonymous to blame others for a perceived lack of success. Or for a companies to undermine their competitors. 

While it is true to say that we want to attract employees who have the intelligence to disseminate this information for what it is, we also don’t appreciate this smoke and mirror forum.  Impressionable, digital-savvy young people, eager to make sure their next career decision is sound, use Glassdoor for research, rightly expecting truth, reason and a balanced opinion. And instead what they find is a kind of wild west.  

We are not perfect, no company is. We have a developing, young leadership team (we grow our own) and in our business I have found that everybody, including the senior leadership teams (myself included), are committed to learning. Sometimes we get things wrong – and we listen to feedback and then we commit to striving to do better.  We listen to our staff and work hard constantly to improve – which is why our business has survived recession, global disasters in our industry like 9/11, ash clouds and SARS which brought others to their knees.

Improving the game

Glassdoor could be called the ‘paparazzi’ of the internet forum world – publishing snap reviews that are purported to represent the whole truth, regardless of context. Does one picture or story about Sir Alex supposedly giving Wayne Rooney the ‘hairdryer’ treatment represent the whole truth of his management style and ability to lead his team to success? On Glassdoor, anonymous reviews, whether overly positive or negative, are available for all to see, but the backstory, and often the truth, is not. 

The criticism itself isn’t the problem – we welcome constructive criticism as it’s what has helped us grow into the company to where we are now and it has made us stronger. As my fake review has shown, it’s the lack of checks in place that needs addressing.

My long-standing intention is to leave this business as one of the finest examples of a well-run global media sales and content business. We will continue to develop and grow our own teams. I will continue to make no apologies for demanding the very best from our colleagues and giving them the platform to be more successful than they could ever have known or believed possible. I want them to have whatever it is they dream about. And I am humbled and proud to say that we have hundreds of success stories to reaffirm that our formula works. 

So, in short, we need Glassdoor to improve their game. We want them to stop hiding behind a one-way mirror and instead offer growing and successful companies the transparency that a truly ‘glass’ forum should provide. Come on Robert Hohman, let’s support the employment community you want to shine a light on with balance and fairness.

They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I say, go ahead, throw them. It won’t make any difference because at Ink our glass is reinforced with the ethics of hard work and transparency. Can Glassdoor say the same?

By Simon Leslie. Aka guru, mentor, entrepreneur, developer, people person, leader by example. Or, narcissist, slave driver, clueless leader. Depending on who you believe.