In today’s economy, operations outages, business closures and virus transmissions — however brief — can deal a major blow to company reputation. To win it back, businesses must take steps to reestablish trust with customers, investors and employees.
It is more important today than ever before to maintain a safe, functional and respectable organization, and any compromise to any of those components can be detrimental for business. But with the pandemic, turbulent economy and shifting status quo, it is easier than ever for missteps to erode business reputation in the marketplace or community.
While the financial losses noted by shuttered operations accounts for the immediate costs of an incident, such as potential revenue lost, losses in productivity, etc., what is far more insidious are the residual effects of downtime. The damage to a company’s brand integrity, loss of investor confidence, or a slump in company morale are far harder to quantify.
First off, know there is still a path through this. Business history is littered with stories of companies that took major missteps only to return stronger than ever. But to do that, reputation must be rebuilt; stakeholders must be made to see the company has changed on a fundamental and structural level. They must be convinced that whatever caused that slip-up is no longer a problem. At BPM, we help businesses recover with tailored rehabilitation plans that impress their customers and shareholders alike. Drawing on that vast experience, we selected our top tips for companies looking to regain their hard-won reputations.
Supplement Executive Leadership With Experienced Financial Leadership
Founders are often hyper-focused on their organization’s mission, whether on a product or technology, or on business growth. During today’s turbulent economy, knowing which areas to focus on (and how) becomes much more difficult and sometimes obscured. That is why after a business disruption, founders, CEOs and other C-suite leaders should be prepared to seek outside help.
Often, companies will start to rebuild their reputation by installing interim financial leadership. An addition like this sends an important signal to customers, vendors, the team and other external stakeholders. Typically, this interim individual brings with them a mix of industry and consulting experience, which they apply to solving not just financial uncertainty, but also operational or strategic challenges.
Brought in at the right time, these leaders can also help a business secure new financing or help it scale, or re-scale, if necessary. They can also support installing proven systems and processes, as well as hiring new people who will remedy any potential operational challenges and get the company closer to achieving its vision.
To be sure, investors, as a group, like to see changes to a company’s C-suite after a major failure. To them, it signals a commitment to change, one that – if the new leadership is sufficiently qualified – will help guide the company down a clear path of unabated growth or renewed stability.
Realign Employees Around a Robust Company Culture
It is easy, particularly for fast-growing companies or businesses trying to stay afloat during an economic downturn, to sideline the more nebulous, people-focused goals, like company culture and values, when the mantra is to grow big and build fast – or work through the uncertainty.
But it is an unrealistic assumption that employees would naturally share the same understanding or attitude as owners or operators, and it can lead to organizational breakdown. This typically presents itself with employees lacking motivation or lacking connection to the organization and becoming less productive, among other signs. And a disengaged team will just lead to more problems and bigger issues.
A robust company culture helps promote engagement and accountability by employees and management, as well as better aligns with company vision and objectives. That kind of mutual connectedness between employees and management can certainly help companies avoid future breakdowns, but how does a leader get to that point? Management scientists often remark that culture is “top-down.” That means a culture starts with company leaders and trickles down through the organization. To truly transform an organization into a thriving organic unit, executives must not just endorse company values, they must live them. In short, in the wake of a major business failure, taking the time to identify core values that are meaningful to the entire population – and are not just fluff — is essential to the smooth operation of any organization.
In addition, leaders can achieve these goals by identifying a performance management tool that ties those core values to behavior, while people are working remotely. Organizations need a software that facilities what is missing with the face to face connectedness, as teams work in various locations. Culture can be developed, maintained and even enhanced while working through a pandemic remotely.
For expert, tailored solutions to your business’s reputation loss, contact BPM today.
Our teams have extensive experience getting businesses of all sizes and in all industries back on their feet after a critical incident. From technical and operational challenges to human resources and leadership tasks, our professionals have the deep domain expertise your business needs to set things right again, fast. Contact us today to learn more.