Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Reputation Erosion


Burson-Marsteller's global reputation research made it into today's The Wall Street Journal. My by-lined Managers Journal piece ("On Business Storm-Proofing," 27 December 2005) described some of the early warning signs of reputation failure and what leaders can do about them. We identified 15 early warning signs (only 7 were identified in the article) and remarkably, business opinion leaders around the world agreed with the rank order and magnitude of these telltale signs.

I was encouraged to see that the first early warning sign was low employee morale. Companies should regularly monitor employee satisfaction and ask employees what is on their minds. With several years of tracking data behind them (start now!), leaders can see how their actions, communications and events impact employee morale and loyalty. With a benchmark to compare against, leaders can recalibrate what is working and not working. Former president Teddy Roosevelt said: "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." If leaders can provide meaningful work worth doing, they are doing their job.

Hopefully as the new year begins and business leaders prepare new slates, we can all watch for these troublesome warning signs and get our houses in order.

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