“You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. W. Edwards Deming
Say the word research, and most people sigh and come up with some excuse why it’s not for them, their department or company, or they might mention that they suffer from survey-fatigue.
Not everyone loves numbers or statistics. As I’ve unashamedly admitted in previous editions, numbers were never my forte. My extra Maths classes after school with Mrs van Putten were pretty much a permanent extension of most of my high school days (thankfully it did help me pass the subject on higher grade). Then came accounting, stats and economic formulas at university. Call me a sucker for punishment!
The penny dropped when I started my career as a research analyst, that was when I became fascinated with graphs and understanding people, markets and issues. I was hooked on research, seeing data coming to life and using that information to make informed decisions. Sometimes the results confirmed uncomfortable truths, sometimes it merely confirmed information that people already knew, however the power of validating a ‘gut feel’ with numbers and seeing the cold hard facts supported by research was magical to me.
People often think that research studies are a long drawn out and expensive exercise with people walking around with a clip board. It does not have to be. Research can be quite a painless exercise when working with a company that has a sleek process in place that includes a proper brief to confirm the who, what, where, when, why and how questions.
Famous American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant, W. Edwards Deming has a great quote about processes, “If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing.”
At Reputation Matters our thorough processes are key for research studies and to ensure quick turnaround times. We live in an age where we want instant results, so part of our process is to present the results in such a way that it is easy to refer to instead of bombarding customers with pages and pages of graphs. We understand that time is money; quality definitely trumps quantity.
When it comes to measuring reputations, we know that it is based on people’s perceptions. Whether or not these perceptions are based on the truth, they are perceptions and people’s realties nonetheless. It is important for organisations to realise that different stakeholders can make different assessments and that not all role players will share the same view of your business’ reputation.
When businesses measure their reputations, it shows that they are interested in fostering a relationship with their stakeholders and deem their inputs as important in looking for ways to build even closer, mutually beneficial relationships. When you measure your reputation, you could cut down on a number of different surveys sent out annually, instead of running a separate survey just for customers and a number of different employee surveys such as climate and culture surveys; you can combine the research into one survey to minimise the time your stakeholders need to spend on completing surveys, and you can get an overview of all the stakeholders at one glance. From the information collected, your different departments can then use the data to build their own strategies and plans to fix areas that need attention and leverage off the positive areas.
In 2002, research showed that the leader’s reputation was estimated by influential business people, such as peer CEOs, business executives, financial analysts, business media and government officials, to account for 48% of an organisation’s reputation. In 2015, the Global Executives Report showed that 81% of external CEO engagement is now a mandate for building company reputation. In the results, 77% of executives said that a positive CEO reputation attracts new employees and 70% said that it retains employees. Just like any other wealth-creating asset, the leader’s reputation therefore needs to be invested in, managed and leveraged over the long term to reap enduring benefits. These benefits include attracting more investors, partners, clients, job applicants and engendering trust in corporate decisions.
Wouldn’t you be interested to know what your own reputation score is and how your organisation’s reputation fares?
Leadership Magazine are in fact interested to know what their reputation is and are currently engaged in a reputation research survey, encouraging all the readers of the magazine to take a couple of minutes to participate. Please take a couple of minutes to log onto their website (www.surveymonkey.com/r/LeadershipMagazine_Readership2015) and complete the survey before the end of February 2016. The results will be shared in the April edition.
Tips for research engagements:
To take your reputation and business to the next level, you need to understand what is important to your stakeholders and what their current perceptions of your business are. To know this, you need to have a base to work from in place. Invest in research.
Don’t neglect research, however be wary not to get into ‘analysis paralysis’ mode
Research does not have to be tedious, get the right research partners on your side
Have a clear brief and know what you want to get out of the research study when you invest
Please remember to complete the Leadership Magazine reputation survey
For more information on managing and investing in your reputation, visit www.reputationmatters.co.za or call +27 (0)11 317 3861. We are also on Facebook www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters and Twitter @ReputationIsKey
Do you have a reputation management question? Ask the specialist – send your question through to Regine and it may be answered in the next edition: firstname.lastname@example.org. The best question will also receive a copy of my book, Reputation Matters, Building blocks to becoming the business people want to do business with.