What constitutes 'reputation' for a business?
There are 6 elements involved in reputation:
- history what the business has said and done
- fundamental attribution error (essentially rating personality as more important than actions)
- judgements made by stakeholders about who we are and what we do
- emotional elements what we feel and think about an organisation
- taking risks what is the organisations attitude to this and how does it handle the consequences
- the values espoused and practiced by an organisation.
Which organisations have the best reputation?
Research indicates the most trusted organisations are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the least are governments, the media and business.
If an organisation is to achieve credible measures of trust and reputation that can be used for reporting and remuneration purposes, an organisation should reflect on three things:
- trust and reputation for what?
- trust and reputation with whom?
- trust and reputation for what purpose?
Responsibility key to cultivating reputation
In the ‘age of good’ great organisations will be those that are perceived to be ‘good’. This means they have demonstrable character, are centred, grounded and fully aware of who and what they are.
Responsibility will be at the heart of leadership and business strategy if trust is to be reinstated. Communication may be what leaders and organisations say, but reputation is what others say about them and, in the internet-driven world in which we now live, there is nowhere to hide. Ironically, as a powerful channel for consumer advocacy, the internet is increasingly the conduit to increased trust as ‘people like me’ influence reputation and purchasing motivation more and more.
Corporate brands too need to appeal to both logic and emotion. That is what is happening in organisations and communication right now; it's a competition about who can introduce the right innovations that will make the make the world a better place while still turning in the financial performance that is expected.
Developing a 'good' reputation in today's world
In the new ‘age of good,’ leaders and their organisations need to:
- be empathetic: they will need to demonstrate a real understanding and appreciation of the needs both of the planet and the people on it
- have clarity of purpose and message: they will need to know who they are and what they stand for if they are to be seen and heard in today's media space
- develop truly 'good' ideas: products and services that make the world a better place in a sustainable way, or at the very least do not make it a worse place
- engage in alliances and collaboration: issues are now bigger than any one individual, government, corporation or country; the world is a highly interconnected place and will require far more collective responsibility than has been the case so far
- engage employees: organisations will need to win the hearts and minds of their employees and provide a 'good' career experience if they are to recruit and retain the best people
- change their behaviour: 'good' ideas will be driven by consumer demand and may alter radically the way we live
- turn 'good' to competitive advantage: the race for reputation is on and he or she who can produce something that makes money and does some good in the world is destined for greatness
- keep up with technology: 'let go' control, get connected to the interconnectivity and encourage people to talk about their product or service.
We need to see a move from competition to achievement, philanthropy to responsibility, from what is said to what is done, closed communities to open communities, government to governance, maintaining control to letting go and from ‘big’ thinking to ‘good’ thinking.