Unlock Your Most Powerful Reputation Asset: Your Employees

Many refer to today’s corporate landscape as the “reputation economy,” with consumer decisions becoming increasingly dependent on online reviews and opinion leaders. We believe the same is happening within many corporations, where opinions are being formed not only by a combination of influencers, media, pundits and activists, but also through interactions with a brand’s most powerful reputation asset: its employees.

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Our reputation management offering, Reputation by Permission, recognizes that more than ever before, a company’s reputation is being shaped by its stakeholders. And companies that remain ardently committed to terms like control, protect, safeguard, and manage are doomed to fail in today’s world of citizen journalism and instantaneous news.

Looking at reputation through the lens of stakeholders’ perspectives must be the first brick in the foundation of a successful reputation management program. To modernize the approach, companies can no longer judge the status of their reputation solely through the eyes of their corporate leadership. The Reputation by Permission paradigm demands an unbiased (often fearless) look at how a company is perceived by its professionals, and requires a concise strategy to move its reputation forward from where it is now, to where it needs to be.

Perhaps most importantly, companies must look within at the perception, sentiment and discussion among employees and engage in discussions about the company, brand, and products and services.

Here are four steps to better engage employees and harness one of the most critical assets of any company:

4-steps

1. Undertake a deep, sincere and regular assessment about how employees feel about the culture, leadership and company.
If the people a company pays every day to act and serve on your behalf are not celebrating the culture built, the innovative products and services offered, and the positive impact it has on customers and communities, why would external stakeholders?

2. Enhance how employee engagement and sentiment is being monitored.
If a company is relying solely on annual assessments of employee attitudes, it will have no leverage in winning the hearts and minds of employees where pride, inspiration and loyalty are determined on a day-to-day basis.

3. Ask for employees’ support.
All too often, companies hope that employees will say positive things about their experiences and perceptions about the company. Many employees do so but are not empowered with the permission, tools and direction to be the most effective advocates.

4. Be clear about the goal, supporting behaviors and actions.
Optimize the leadership skills and communication ecosystem in your company to help employees understand a brand’s purpose, aspiration and the role they play in helping to bring these to life each day. If they are not involved in creating that vision, their commitment may never reach the levels needed to build internal permission.

We’d love to hear how you engage your employees and earn the permission you need to succeed in today’s era of transparency. Feel free to leave a thought or question in the comments section below.

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‘Feel the fear’ – authentic leadership in times of change

The UK election highlighted that being seen as an effective leader is a key factor for success. The search is now on for opposition parties to elect new leaders to change their parties’ fortunes.

Over the past three years, there has been a decline in people’s view of leaders. In 2014, just 22% of respondents in Ketchum’s Leadership Communication Monitor said leaders are demonstrating effective leadership, down from 25% in 2013.

Amplifying this issue, a recent Harvard Business Review study ranks strong executive leadership as one of the top three factors for business success.

So what makes for an effective leader in times of change?

Research by the Institute of Employment Studies shows authentic leadership as the most effective route to inspire followership and action.

Authentic leaders always portray a version of their ‘real self’. In doing so, they inspire loyalty amongst their staff who want a leader who is genuine, transparent and trustworthy.

This isn’t easy. As humans, we possess many beliefs about the world and ourselves; and when we face major decisions these beliefs can clash. This results in a psychological state of tension known as cognitive dissonance. The experience of dissonance is unpleasant, because we feel conflicted and torn between the choices we face. The natural reaction is to attempt to reduce or eliminate this conflict, and achieve consonance (i.e. self-agreement and conviction).

Leaders are no exception. When a leader adapts his or her attitude or behaviour to reduce cognitive dissonance, employees can interpret this as inauthenticity which can damage trust.

In effect, great leaders accept cognitive dissonance and ‘feel the fear’.

So how can we learn to ‘feel the fear’? Daggerwing works with leaders to unpick uncomfortable truths allowing them to:

  • Understand that they can choose to act differently, and this new behaviour can in turn modify their attitude
  • Recognise the moments or events that trigger them where dissonance is at play and break to cycle

By proactively managing their attitude and ability to lead change authentically, leaders are able to bring others through change successfully.

The new opposition party leaders will face many challenges ahead. If they can learn to ‘feel the fear’ and be authentic in their actions, they are more likely to succeed in gaining both their colleagues’ and the public’s followership and trust.