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online-reputation-management modernworkersMost companies pay attention to what is happening externally – the response by its customers, sales channel, investors, bloggers and the media. Most companies do a decent job of monitoring the external reputation. Companies track blogs, forums and articles to audit discussions and trends. Online reputation management is easy to read, monitor and respond. It has become critical in business as a medium.

Reputation management has a big impact on a company’s revenue, and addressing the external audiences is important. Often, organizations will base reputation management programs on what those external audiences say. In my career, I’ve seen Communications and Investor Relations staffers draft scripts for the executive team to deliver information on trending topics during quarterly calls or at financial conferences. The teams provide answers to anticipated questions with accurate information on which investors can depend, which is safer and smarter than allowing inaccurate information to filter in from elsewhere. This is an avoidable risk.

However, failing to notice or regard what internal audiences are saying can be a bigger risk. Oftentimes, companies fall short in managing their own internal reputation management. It is one area that does not always garner the needed attention it deserves. Some companies do not view employee perceptions as a significant component to reputation management, while other executive leadership teams may not understand the importance of employee perceptions within the organization.

While the customer may always be right, your employee is the one in contact with that customer. Employees are the first line of brand ambassadors. They are the ones who, when they believe in something, will stand by a company through the darkest days. Conversely, if they have lost faith or confidence in the leader, the product or the philosophy of the company, there is going to be a major disconnect in trying to move a program, idea or concept forward without their support.

Do not disregard water cooler talk. Any employee discussion can glean valuable information.

According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace, strategy and leadership philosophy is the most effective way to generate employee engagement. “The best leaders understand that there is an emotional  undercurrent to everything they do … they take a strategic, top-down approach to engaging leadership teams and then cascade engagement through the ranks of managers to employees on the front lines.” In order for a business to be successful, the leaders need to provide a clear vision of how their people connect to the company’s mission and growth strategy.

What can you do to establish your organization as one of the best? First steps including assessing your communication and knowledge management. Are you taking a strategic approach to align employee engagement communication efforts? Are you hoping it will just organically happen? Look for ways and methods to communicate your organization’s engagement impact throughout the year. Next, share engagement tools and best practices within the organization. Use every opportunity, touchpoint, and available communication channel to reinforce and recognize your organization’s commitment to employee engagement.

When your own employees have good things to say about your company, product or service, a corresponding response from external audiences will not be out of range. If you develop, build and nurture a strong internal reputation management, you have engaged the best brand ambassadors – your own employees.

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