When Things Go Wrong
I remember a dinner four year ago where I was sat listening to people talk of reputation management when things go wrong. Now I see agencies advertising how they will help you with your online reputation management – diagnose your online status; optimise your social profiles; take control or even clean up your online reputation.
At the time it struck me as a bit “cart after the horse has bolted”; The truth is, now we are several steps beyond that.
24 hour news has been swept aside by an uncontrollable tidal wave of social media drivers – particularly the hashtag, social sharing, trending, internet influences and the retweet. Bad news doesn’t just spread – it accelerates like wildfire around the globe – magnified at times under a lens of social opprobrium.
And then once you have finished, the output stays on line for all to search and continue to see – not buried in shelves of dusty old newspapers in the Nation’s libraries of records like the old days. This is not to say this is negative – few would deny that #MeToo has been a force for good.
In recent headlines, Oxfam lost several thousand donors within days – it remains to be seen if it survives. The Weinstein foundation has, thankfully, toppled, VW and Tesco survived – but both suffered pretty large hits.
The last few months have cemented beyond doubt, if it wasn’t clear enough before, that it’s time to re engineer how businesses look at Reputation Management and to substitute it for “Total Business Management”. If that sounds authoritarian it is the very opposite.
- Destroy your reputation and brand
- Alienate your customer base
- Give you a hiring nightmare (people don’t exactly seek out embattled brands to commit too)
- Alienate suppliers
Steps to Mitigate the Risk
- Learn to operate in every part of your business as if it were in the public eye – always.
- Make sure your staff can speak freely to you – they know your organisation top to bottom; Between them they know the darkest corners of your organisation senior management never visit (and some of the lightest corners too);
- Empower your staff to tell you what is and isn’t working and to deal with problems immediately. For some this may require deep breath around trust and empowerment.
- Training, development and delegation.
- Act with respect and integrity in everything you and your organisation do – always.
- Deal swiftly and fairly with problems. Whether it is your Stakeholders, Customers, Suppliers or Staff, if you get it wrong, sort it quickly and fairly. Most people will give you one chance. Use it.
The above may seem hard at first; To some they will be counter intuitive. These are not merely steps to avoid crisis management – they are key to running a successful business well.
One step we can help you with is to ensure that any member of your staff can easily and anonymously discuss concerns, problems or ideas. Gain true understanding before problems escalate and cause lasting damage. Anonymous reporting has been proven to make employees feel safe and confident in raising concerns – Contact us to arrange a demonstration of our SpeakinConfidence solution.