Reputational Risk and Your Team
Shooting for the Stars
Over 60 years ago, a milestone was achieved in science and for humankind – NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission. Most know of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, but they would never have made it into the history books without the contribution of more than 400,000 people. The three astronauts consistently visited the laboratories to build a rapport with the teams and individuals whose hands their lives were in. It was the cohesion and trust present in NASA’s teams that first brought man to the moon.
Trust is defined as a firm belief in the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. A person or thing in which confidence is placed.
It’s vital that from the top-down bottom-up, there is trust in a team and its individuals. The decision from leadership to offer a team greater visibility or responsibility usually stems from how well you think they will do, their reputation for success, and the confidence in effectively executing the request.
Trust builds a positive reputation that barricades against competition and shields against risk and crisis. Knowing how trust is created and how reputation is maintained is key to fostering an effective and strong team.
Why a bad reputation is bad for business When a team is not delivering or appears not to be, others will avoid collaboration, fearing work and reputation damage. Teams with a negative reputation create distrust within a project, making it harder for other groups to do their job. When asking for help, such a team may not get many offers of assistance, pushing them further away from their target and the rest of the organization.
A poor reputation causes strife for the team internally. When a team is not respected, individuals within that team can suffer. Workplace frustration often leads to poor performance and resignation. Lack of respect and lack of trust was the second most common reason for an employee to quit in 2021. A mid-level employee turnover can cost an organization 150% of that employee’s annual salary to replace. This increases to 400% of an employee’s salary if an employee is highly specialized. Retainment and respect go hand in hand. Save money by saving reputation.
A team’s brand can affect its organization’s brand and its perceived value. A tarnished team and organization are costly predicaments that affect the bottom line and decrease the likelihood of attracting investors, contractors, customers, and quality employees. Lack of trust and negative connotations with your team is as impactful and harsh as any physical project setback.
With the economic downturn, companies are looking to recession-proof. That includes making leaner business decisions. Scrutinizing outputs and successes, expenses, resources, and additional support are questioned, and there may be unfavorable outcomes if a team’s reputation doesn’t precede them positively. The same circumstances come into play during mergers and acquisitions (M&A). A team’s reputation is a critical asset during the amalgamation of resources – when roughly 30% of employees are made redundant after an M&A.
The Value of Reputation and Trust
What leads to a good reputation?
There is a two-part answer to this question. One part is performance. Just as an individual needs to continuously provide meaningful contributions to a team, a team must offer significant unified contributions to the organization. Performance is closely linked to trust. Neuroscientist and economist Paul Zak’s research illustrates that companies “with high levels of trust have happier, less stressed, more energetic, and more productive employees.”
Less is more when trying to increase your team’s trust and performance, specifically regarding autonomy. Studies show that increasing workplace autonomy increases employees’ sense of job satisfaction, motivation, creativity, productivity, and well-being. Happier, more creative employees are a fantastic catalyst for innovation. Equipped your team with the tools they need and then step back; allow them the space to meet and exceed expectations. Trust them to perform and they will.
The second building block of reputation is perception. For the organization to appreciate a team’s contributions, it must be aware of them.
Internal corporate visibility can be more challenging to achieve. For this aspect, find a way to convey your teams’ contributions and achieved goals succinctly – metrics are always effective. Short reports with detailed data and outcomes efficiently communicate your team’s performance to upper management, polishing you and your team’s reputation. Tracking these metrics over time provides greater insight to upper management, illustrating how your team is improving and growing. Metrics also protect teams with delayed projects, showing that they perform at or above pace.
Positively perceived companies understand the benefit from a diverse “share of voice,” “the percentage of leading-media stories mentioning the firm that quote someone from the organization or cite data it has provided.” Happy, healthy internal teams are a solution. Research suggests that an organization needs to have, at a minimum, a 35% share of the external brand voice to keep the impact of negative media to a minimum. Therefore, teams and individuals who are satisfied with their organizational role are far more likely to bring positive stories of their company to the media, enabling a diverse “share of voice.” To maintain a good reputation, news stories concerning the company are varied and positive.
One team that has managed to build a reputation for almost 500 years is the Royal Society of London.
The first national scientific institution in the world was granted a charter by King Charles II in 1660 and referred to as the invisible college. During a time of prejudice, war, and political unrest, the group accepted members of all backgrounds.
The society’s motto, “Nullius in Verba,” is translated as “take nobody’s word for it” to compel members to verify all theories with experimental research and scientific facts. As a result, they established the sciences we use today, including anatomy, physics, and chemistry, to name a few, and have counted innovators Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Sir Isaac Newton as members.
The team’s achievements were established on a foundation of trust, support, and respect, as well as a collective goal – the advancement of science.
Managing Team Reputation
How do you manage your team to ensure their reputation is a reliable resource that delivers success?
An organization’s targets and vision need to be achievable for your team, which may not always seem doable with the resources available. Setting a foundation with tools, incorporating coaching, and building workflows will provide a roadmap and actionable items for the individuals in your team to meet the objectives of their role and highlight your team’s strengths.
It’s easy to experience communication challenges, misunderstandings, and frustrations with remote and global offices – opportunities that remove silos can show how a team’s contributions affect different project stages or groups within an organization.
Providing your team with a holistic strategy connects them with numerous departments in your organization, and individuals work together on the overarching organizational goals. Removing communication barriers means that your team is successful in its function but also seen by stakeholders that may not otherwise have insight into their achievements.
The strategic pursuit of recognition for you and your team is a complex but productive task—and that task starts with trust. Trust and cohesion help you and your team navigate project setbacks and internal collaboration, instill confidence within the individuals on your team, and fosters a positive reputation.
Building trust requires a combination of communication and cooperation. Creating a shared environment to work together and learn from one another is crucial for project management and organizational success.
This environment does not have to be physical; it can be embedded into your company’s systems.
Software tools that are tailored to your organization, and best practices plus incorporate industry standards allow you to trust the quality of work generated by the tool. These tools help allow autonomy, accelerated performance, increased productivity, and assurance for the individuals using the tool. Tools such as QVscribe, establish these practices at the earliest stage of development and thusly into your design process, instituting a system you can be confident in.
Cement your team’s role within your organization and encourage the best from those around you. Reputation management is risk management for yourself, your organization, and your team. Uncover the tools and communication styles that create community and productivity.