25 Nov

Sustainable Corporate Reputation

Corporate Culture. Company Values. Management Philosophies. Businesses spend a great deal of time formalizing both how customers perceive them and how employees conduct themselves.

Regardless of whether a business is just starting or if it has an established customer base and is expanding its reach, certain aspects of its internal organization must be consciously discussed and systematically put in place.

Unfortunately, many companies do not realize how certain values are undermined by operational procedures. While a mission statement may name teamwork as a corporate value, individual sales incentives reward isolated achievements versus collaborative efforts. Similarly, smaller companies value and promote their ability to remain flat organizations, but yet, senior management is not required to visit storefront locations, fulfillment centers, etc.

Throughout my past experiences defining a company’s corporate values, the conversation centralized around forming a mission statement. More specifically: why do you do what you do? Who are the people behind the company? What kind of people are you? Who will I be working for or buying from? What are you most proud of as an organization? What does your company stand for? And stand against?

Regardless of the discussions, both a company’s mission statement and ideal set of values are only as true as the procedures that govern them. As always, actions speak louder than words, and the procedures, employee conduct, marketing campaigns, product positioning, etc. engender its reputation – i.e. its customers’ perception.

While a company’s values can influence and affect its end consumer, it really begins with its employees. An employee begins to form her perception of a company’s values even before she is employed. The hiring process is her first impression of the corporate culture – both its values and operational structure. If she is hired, the on-boarding process is the first internal influence on what the organization values. Is the process rigid and formalized? Are there seminars set up? Lunches organized? And perhaps an employee manual prepared?

Managing internal procedures to coincide with corporate values and the company’s overall mission is critical in creating a sustainable reputation.