This article was originally published on the WorkForce blog.


Every ‘Naked Organization’ prides itself on transparency and honesty — especially during the recruiting process — but this level of corporate candor is unprecedented.


Back in 2012, IBM’s Vice President of HR, Tom Vines, made a weird prediction.

In an interview with Workforce MagazineTom predicted that within a decade, new hires will have a say in who their manager will be. In fact, they’ll be able to handpick a manager based on his or her performance review.

A performance review that was willingly and strategically published by that manager’s company to recruit top talent.

Let’s dig a little deeper here…

Corporate Transparency 1.0

Before applying for a job, most people head to Glassdoor.com to conduct some research, as they should.

“[We wanted to] remove some of the opaqueness in the hiring transaction,” says Glassdoor CEO, Robert Hohman, “helping people make better decisions about where to go to work.”

To help in that decision-making process, Glassdoor publishes company-specific reviews, salaries, interviews, and benefits that were submitted anonymously by employees, past and current. They also put each company’s CEO on blast, openly displaying his or her name, picture, and approval rating.

Before Glassdoor.com went live in June, 2008, this level of transparency would’ve been hard to come by. Today, it’s an accepted component of the “Naked Organization,” a concept that calls for companies—big and small; public and private—to indiscriminately share their culture and values with the world.

Middle managers, however, get a pass on Glassdoor because, after all, they never signed up to be in the public eye.

That said, the rest of the internet doesn’t care.

Corporate Transparency 2.0

Two years after Tom Vines told his prediction to Workforce Magazine, Patrick Nagle, former CEO of the hugely successful RateMyProfessor.com, launched a sister site: RateMyBoss.com.

RateMyBoss lets users anonymously rate managers on their “Leadership,” “Reliability,” and “Communication” skills. Users can also leave a comment. Some comments are complementary, while others are damning, like this one:

“She has no undergraduate education or industry knowledge to back up her decisions. Striking incompetence; most decisions lack common sense. Arrogant, envious of her own employees. Doesn’t pay wages regularly, then stops paying at all.”

Anonymous employee on RateMyBoss.com

While it’s a sentiment that could derail a career, it’s also precisely the type of future transparency Tom Vines was alluding to years before RateMyBoss even existed. And today, there are other management watchdog sites for candidates to visit, including StartRating.com and eBossWatch.com, both of which promise reviewers full anonymity.

Is Tom Vines’ prediction coming true?

Logically, if third-party sites eventually commoditize managerial performance data, would it not make sense for companies to simply give it away?

Because from a recruiting standpoint, there are benefits to be gained. For example:

  1. Exposing the strengths and weaknesses of individual managers sends a powerful message to candidates about the company’s commitment to honesty and transparency.
     
  2. Allowing high-value candidates to select a compatible boss (based on personality type and experience level, for instance) can provide a launch pad for productivity and innovation.
     
  3. Accountability drives fair, responsible management styles, which makes for an overall healthier workplace.
     
  4. Taking the reins gives companies a degree of control over the applicant experience that’s lost on third-party sites.

Even so, as a manager, the notion that your confidential performance feedback could soon become part of the public domain is, at best, unsettling. As a leader, you might be wondering:

“Today, more than ever, managers have to innovate, grow and, most importantly, take their people along with them.”

“How can I protect myself?”

As a concept, Naked Organizations have altered the face of management for the better, keeping the individuals at the helm visible and accountable. Today, more than ever, managers have to innovate, grow and, most importantly, develop their people along with them.

From a workforce management standpoint, automating employees’ daily processes (e.g., time tracking and absence management) would propel necessary change. Providing workers with a degree of scheduling flexibility as well as consistent, accurate payments would also align with modern expectations.

Ultimately, in a landscape where power is shifting to the employee, a manager has to live by his or her company’s values, by its promises. Whether that’s achieved through personal habit creation or by using software tools that automate those promises, being consistent, dependable, and logical in the eyes of your people is essential to protecting your professional (i.e., public) image.