To reduce reputational risk throughout the organisation the message regarding reputation as an asset and risk will need to be addressed at three levels:
The company needs to develop a clear and convincing need for managing reputation. The best way is to embody the company’s approach in a policy document and strategic plan that states clearly that the Board of Directors recognizes the tremendous value of intangibles and undertake to manage it strategically.
This policy must be followed up with executive support that is demonstrated through the commitment of time, personnel, money. The policy needs to be rolled out using communication efforts that is planned, channeled, and acted upon. At the same time tracking and feedback systems should be developed that can include media scanning (external)and closer working together of the PR, Risk and Internal Auditors department in a vehicle such as a Reputation Committee*. Reputation needs to be included in performance management initiatives.
At Departmental level department heads should ensure that staff are informed, educated, train and supervised to foster and build the department and organization’s reputation. Department Heads need to make Reputation a meeting agenda item which means that progress and obstacles and perceptions will be discussed and acted upon.
By department heads factoring in stakeholder reputation every time decisions are made, reputation will move from being a strategic concept to something more real. Department Heads can for instance focus on the concept of the internal customer service and through that focus improve perceptions of their own departments by external and internal stakeholders.
To foster reputation throughout the organisation will require a balance between affective, behavioural, and cognitive learning. This will necessitate a three-pronged approach: fostering attitudes, developing and practising of skills, and promoting understanding of the concepts and models behind reputation and stakeholder focused thinking.
In short: you need staff to not just know about reputation but also to be able to act and think in a reputable manner. Employees should receive information, education, training and supervision in what personal and organisation reputation is, why it is so important and what they could do to contribute to it. By selling the personal benefits to employees, attitudes will be affected and will eventually manifest through increased attention and personal service. People will learn to weigh up their actions in the context of their own personal reputation; i.e. "If I do this, what will people say, and feel about me".
By using a multidisciplinary and multidimensional approach companies can go a long way to influence the value of its reputation and ultimately its share price.
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