A recent alert grabbed my attention. It made the bold statement that the most important issue facing businesses today is managing their reputation. This wasn’t about splashing on a bright, new coat of PR paint, issuing self-serving press releases, or scheduling TV ads featuring “happy and grateful” employees.
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More than ever, today’s consumers align their dollars with businesses that share their values and concerns. It may be somewhat ironic that it took the COVID-19 pandemic to get our attention focused on where we’re spending our money. In the past months, companies have responded with new bursts of transparency. They want us to know what they care about, the good they are doing, and the causes they are supporting. They may also have come to realize there’s no place to hide and it’s in their best interest to take a stand.
But we shouldn’t stop there. Every employed person who wants to keep their job, is looking for a job, or wants to move up should be equally concerned with the care and cultivation of their reputation. Watch out! Someone is out to replace you. Or, the boss is scrutinizing the team to decide who adds value and who doesn’t. Reputation makes a difference.
To take a closer look at the implications of reputation management, here are three questions that apply equally to both businesses and individuals:
1. Do we value top performance?
We say we do. So do our marketing messages. Everyone says they’re onboard, but where’s the evidence? Are we assuming that front-line workers behave with customers how we say they do? How rare is it that we encounter people with the ability, training, and desire to put themselves in someone else’s shoes? How often do they give out information that’s inaccurate?
What happens with frontline workers is a reflection of what occurs throughout companies. We say, “Customers First.” But do our actions tell the same story?
Unfortunately, nonprofits, who depend on volunteers to help deliver services to those with the greatest need, have similar stories. Many volunteers, who are good people, lack the necessary training to help those they’re asked to serve. How might their clients feel? Just more of what they’ve come to expect.
2. Why are we in business?
When asked this question, “To make money” is the instant response. That may seem to be a popular answer, but not for everyone. For a growing number of workers, there’s more to it, particularly many members of GenZ, those born between the late 90s and 2012. They want to feel they’re making a difference and they’re looking for a place that’s welcoming and they can be committed, not just do a job.