Management courses are never complete without a discussion of visions, missions, objectives and goals, however do leaders of companies really know how impactful a clearly defined strategic intent can be on their business’ reputation?
Founder and Managing Director of Reputation Matters, Regine le Roux is certain that while some corporates may consider business values as ‘stale’ or going out of fashion, they are critical for good reputation management.
“All businesses must have a vision that is translated into a meaningful mission, objectives and specific goals. It is the first business building block to know what the business is about and where it is heading towards.”
Le Roux warns that the important link between strategic intent and reputation should not be overlooked.
“Employees play a fundamental role in a business’ strategic intent as their work contributes towards achieving the vision, making it critical to communicate this to employees.”
Having sat around many a boardroom table discussing strategic intent, le Roux has far too often seen executives become confused when finding that they all have a different version of the business vision.
“It goes without saying that this type of confusion has a major impact on the ultimate reputation of the organisation. When internal perceptions are misaligned and employees don’t know the vision of the business, how are they supposed to help achieve it?” she asks.
When the vision is not clear to a few senior managers, just imagine what the rest of the employees and other associated stakeholders may think, comments le Roux.
“If an organisation can’t be aligned internally, there is no way of expecting external stakeholders such as customers, partners or the media to be on the same page. The larger the discrepancy regarding strategic intent, the worse the impact will be to the organisation’s reputation.”
Correcting such problems, shares le Roux, is about aligning the core concepts of the strategic intent to an organisation’s key communication initiatives. Key messages must be identified and communicated to the different stakeholder audiences. She further explains, that the crux of the message should be aligned to the overall, single-minded strategic intent of the company, regardless of the different stakeholders the business speaks to.
Regular communication of these key messages on the most appropriate channels of communication is important, says le Roux.
“These channels differ from organisation to organisation, however, very often the most effective channels of communication are not necessarily the most expensive.”
Feedback from stakeholders through research is also valuable.
“When we measure an organisation’s reputation with our unique Repudometer® tool, we analyse the strategic direction of the organisation,” explains le Roux.
“Through analysis of feedback from respondents we can ascertain whether the concepts and terminology used to define the business’ direction is appropriate and understood by all.”
This, le Roux says, helps to identify gaps and pick up on any misaligned perceptions. Based on the research results, Reputation Matters offers customised recommendations to help take the organisation’s reputation to the next level by shaping the strategic intent into a clear direction and assisting the organisation with focussing on creating new capabilities to maximise future opportunities.