The headlines of the last few months have had us all scratching our heads and asking how can this happen? Reputations have been left in tatters as a result of poor judgement where individuals and corporations have forgotten what really counts.
You won’t find a category in your business insurance policy options for damage to reputation but it is one of the biggest risks for any organisation. A restaurant is only as good as its last meal. The old adage that “all publicity is good publicity” is simply not true. A business in the media for the wrong reasons has a problem. A person who has to stand aside and resign when being caught out has not only lost their current job but has also severely damaged their future employment prospects. As they say, mud sticks.
What are some of the things that can be learned?
1. Reputations are very fragile; it takes constant work to protect them.
2. Don’t get distracted from the lure of short-term gains. It is the long game that really counts.
3. Culture is key. It was Peter Drucker who said “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. He was not downplaying the importance of business strategy but rather that it is more important to have a sound organisational culture.
Over recent years we have seen a plethora of books and courses around topics like leadership, culture and ethics. There is general recognition that these are all crucial in building successful businesses. The core values of an organisation and the behaviour modelled by its leaders will generally set the tone for behaviour throughout the organisation.
So we encourage our clients to take time to consider these important issues and to invest in them and protect them. Specific actions include:
Ensuring there is a clear understanding of the mission and vision of the business and that people are aligned with it.
Promoting the core values of the organisation and educating staff about what this means for day-to-day behaviour.
Having a clear code of conduct and holding everyone in the organisation accountable to it.
When someone behaves in a manner that is in conflict with what is acceptable, ensure that action is taken immediately to remedy the situation.
Invest time and money in your leadership team to make sure they not only have a clear understanding of culture but give them adequate space to explore what it means for your organisation and them personally.
Our experienced team of partners and directors are always available to talk about important things that impact on your organisation, and would be happy to share some of the ways in which we have sought to build a strong organisational culture.