Peter LaMotte -
June 1, 2014
Every business must work continuously to maintain its brand reputation. When something goes wrong, businesses not only need to rebuild their external image, they must also ensure that employees feel supported. Employees are a company’s best brand ambassadors, and, unless their pride and confidence can be restored after a crisis, businesses risk even greater damage in the marketplace.Here are ways to rebuild employee pride and confidence if and when your organization's brand takes a hit:Be honest. When your credibility is at stake, any attempt to cover up mistakes or paint an unrealistically optimistic picture will only make things worse. Be honest with employees about where things stand. Give them facts about the situation. Defuse rumors before they have a chance to spread. Every employee should have a clear grasp of exactly how damaging the recent crisis was — and the steps you’re taking to rebuild customer confidence in your brand. If they understand how you plan to handle the situation, they’re much better equipped to support both the process and the new messaging you want to send.Communicate at every opportunity. While you’re rightly focused on communicating to your external stakeholders, you should make sure you’re communicating with your workforce at every opportunity. Schedule all-staff meetings to keep people updated on actions you’re taking. Send company-wide emails from the CEO or a senior executive. Let everyone know you have an open-door policy (at least in the immediate post-crisis period) and that you welcome employee suggestions, feedback and ideas about how best to move forward.Return to business as usual. Depending on the type of mishap, it may not be possible to restore normalcy right away. But sometimes striving for the appearance of daily life as employees know it helps build confidence that someone’s in charge. Employees can take pride that your business can suffer a setback and keep pushing ahead. If certain activities were suspended during the crisis, try to reinstate them wherever possible. A feeling of routine is always greatly appreciated after a time of chaos and uncertainty.Focus on the fundamentals. Employees wondering how your brand will fare can be reassured by a renewed focus on what’s made your business successful thus far. In your communications, stress the continuity of your long-range strategy. Identify projects and activities that can take a back seat to the more urgent business of working on those parts of the business that matter most. Pride is restored when people sense that the “fundamentals” are still intact.Celebrate small victories. Celebrate any small victories that occur in the post-crisis period, such as the positive results of a new customer survey or a favorable mention of your business in the media. If an employee reports an encouraging customer interaction, share the news with the entire staff. It’s important that people know about good things, particularly if there’s been a recent spate of bad news.Give employees more power to serve your customers. Even under the best of circumstances, your leadership team will have plenty to do following a brand mishap. Thus, it’s even more imperative that you empower your employees to better serve your loyal customers any way they can. Nothing restores confidence in a brand better than customer satisfaction. With empowered front-line employees, you’re demonstrating trust in their dedication and skills, and you’re benefiting the customers who must be won back to your business.