Your reputation is your most valuable asset: how are you building it?
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”—Benjamin Franklin
We all, intellectually, want to build the reputation of the company where we work. A strong and positive reputation helps attract great people, creates a sense of providing more value and will drive customer loyalty.
Organisations often have plans in place to manage reputational risks yet fail to build their reputation in a planned way for the long term.
Here are three actions you can take to do this now:
1) Have a vision!
Your vision statement is an aspirational description of what your organisation would like to achieve in the future. It should be a guide to your current and future decisions and actions every single day. And it should be developed with others in your team so it has real meaning and connects at a deeper level.
Amazingly many organisations do not have a defined vision. Without a vision, an organisation will struggle to share its direction for the long term in a way that really creates a sense of unity. This common ‘vision’ also enables an organisation to build a strong reputation. It is the backdrop to everything.
When you build it together and use it as your North Star every day, your vision forms the backbone to every decision, every policy, the people you recruit and creates purpose and focus for people. And, of course, this all builds a strong and positive reputation aligned to where your organisation is going.
2) Ensure your vision reflects the current perceptions of your organisation
As well as building the vision with your team so it has meaning and connects at a deeper level, you also need to do your research to ensure it is realistic and ensure you are not over promising.
Look at social media and see what people are saying about you. Talk to your external stakeholders and find out what they think (after speaking to those within your organisation). A simple question like, ‘which three words come to mind when you think about our organisation’ can start an interesting discussion.
Listening is key to everything you do. It enables you to be aware of and sort out problems before they become too big and damaging. It creates opportunities to gather ideas for improvements and new products or services, building your reputation as a leader that understands its customers.
In our LISA communication model we start every ‘communication thought process’ with listening because we know how much value true listening can deliver.
3) Understand what events could potentially decrease the gap between your shared vision and reality and be prepared
So you’ve probably thought about some of the events that may increase the gap between your vision and reality, through the development of your crisis management plan.
But what about putting together a plan of opportunities to build your reputation, to decrease the gap between what people currently think and where you need them to be.
Work out a list of current perceptions and where you need to move each. What are the proof points and actions that could demonstrate you are true to your vision?
Work through a list of those people who are key influencers, thought leaders and ‘loud voices’ in your organisation’s environment. Think about where each one is and where you need them to be. Can you create conversations or events to move their mindsets or build on current thinking?
How about if, instead of being critical, some of these people could be your advocates, building your reputation for you?
What would you suggest could be done to build a good reputation?