Corporate reputation: A fundamental asset in any company

The good or bad reputation of a company or a person is the reason why we decide to trust them, believe in their messages or consume certain products. Or why we decide not to do so. Today, reputation is an unquestionable value generator for any company and leader, and the management of this intangible is one of the most important and transcendent tasks in business management of this century.

An important issue to obtain a positive corporate reputation is the management of promises. This term alludes to a clear coherence between what we say and what we do, since the gap between promises and actions has a negative influence on reputation and is a potential trigger for a reputation crisis, especially among a modern public, capable and willing to demand an unprecedented level of honesty and transparency. 

“You will achieve a good reputation by striving to be what you want to seem” – Socrates

Today, organizational stakeholders have unprecedented power to demand a logical, direct, and proven connection between stated priorities and the actions taken to achieve them. Unrestricted access to information has created a new level of accountability, establishing a much more precise definition of what constitutes a fulfilled promise, narrowing the permissible gap between our statements and our practices.

Stakeholders make informed business decisions with those who demonstrate that they can connect what they say with what they do, which has profound implications for businesses and leaders.

Strategies to improve consistency between what we say and what we do:

Designing the Promise

The art of making promises begins with creating a viable business promise. It is essential to create a clear and measurable statement of intent, avoiding generalist and undifferentiated statements which attempt to encompass too much. This implies first of all, an effort to be authentic and reflect what we really are, that is, that even before considering the business promise, it is necessary to make an introspective analysis, being honest and realistic with what we are, what we want to become and the actions we can carry out to achieve it. Secondly, it implies an effort to materialize those findings on an actionable level, with emphasis on delimiting accurately the desired action, the way in which it is going to be carried out and the necessary controls to monitor its success. 

The management structure: From paper to facts

Once the viable business promise is designed, the process continues with the development of a corporate level promise management architecture. This is the solid connection of the promise to all commercial, procedural and functional activities of the organization. This will help stakeholders “see” our strategy in everything we do. This mechanism involves a comprehensive effort from the top of the organization, through all its layers, allowing the long-term execution of the strategic intent, palpable in everything the company does and says.

Inevitably, key functional activities will have to be readjusted, in the direction of our new corporate promise. These may be, for example, training staff to correctly perform the new processes, redesigning job descriptions with the desired new approach, or directly linking recognition and reward policies to the objectives of the promise. 

Affirming the Promise: Measurement, Measurement, Measurement…

Promise management culminates in a continuous process of monitoring, measuring and correcting. Despite being last on the list, this step is critical to the success or failure of our corporate promise. It is essential to be aware of how the corporate promise is resonating with internal and external stakeholders, and how to improve that impact. To achieve this, it is necessary to establish controls and standards, both internal and external, of the performance of the promise, monitoring and collecting in real time the information they provide. This information in turn will serve as the basis for designing action plans to improve the execution of this corporate promise, protecting it from damage and narrowing the gap between words and deeds.

Some ideas for measuring and monitoring: surveys to find out how our promise resonates with customers and employees, analysis of the effectiveness of policies that support the promise, or specific metrics that reflect stakeholder satisfaction with the corporate promise. 

In essence, it’s about minimizing the friction that results from a dissonance between what we are, what we say and what we do. By reducing that gap, the perception others have of us will improve, boosting our reputation.