In today’s skeptical business climate, clients are looking for greater meaning, transparency and sincerity from the companies with whom they choose to work. Taking a proactive approach and ensuring your frontline teams carry a consistent response and message is important in facing corporate challenges.
So what happens to the individual when the company reputation takes a hit? When the company CEO is caught with hands-in-the-cookie-jar, client data is compromised, bloggers attack the credibility of the brand, or the product line fails, it is critical that you (the professional) stay consistent and true to your personal brand, despite the company struggle.
It is hard not to feel betrayed and confused when the brand you believed in feels disloyal. At the end of the day, it is the integrity and credibility of the individual contributor who can make the mission and statement of the company come to life.
Stay in integrity for yourself. The values that led you to want to join the company and the work you have done while employed should remain the focus. Depending on your role, it may not be your place to try to repair the integrity of the company, except through your ethical individual actions and the direction issued by senior management. When it is no longer possible to stay aligned with your values in this employment, it’s time to leave.Here are some tips to staying aligned with your values when the company brand goes bad:
- Avoid becoming part of a gossip chain. Clients, staff and investors will often seek “the real story” about what happened and ask you for personal insight and commentary, rather than accept what the press release said. Spreading news is likely not your job and opens up liability beyond just your reputation.
- Take the high road. Every person makes mistakes and so do companies. To err is human. Instead of dwelling or partaking in the spiral of downward energy, focus on what you do have control over and stay on higher ground.
- Keep in touch with your clients. They are scared, concerned or alarmed. The uncertainty you feel is magnified for them. Their reputation is on the line as they continue to partner and work with your company. As best you can, listen to their concerns, help them manage expectations and don’t run from the conversation.
- Plan accordingly. A massive product recall, investor alarm, online social media revolt is scary and the quick reaction is not always the right response. Hopefully, your internal marketing and legal counsel advised have prepared the company with tools and resources to survive a major hit to your company reputation, but even if that is not the case, take a deep breath, survey the situation and respond from a place of authenticity and integrity. You will most likely not go wrong.
Has your company undergone a hit to the reputation? How did you emerge with your personal brand in tact?