Being a “reputation whisperer”
I always keep a pile next to my laptop to help me think of ideas for this blog. By mistake I threw out something two days ago that intrigued me enough to place in the pile. Now I can’t find it and I wish I could remember a key word to find it online. It was in one of the papers I regularly read and it had a chart about “bad reps.” My memory says that it was about how dissatisfied employees leave companies and contribute to their former employer’s bad reputation by their nay-saying. The research in the article said that this problem was only growing worse with the down economy, the anonymity of the Internet and employees’ feelings that they are overworked. There was a chart that actually showed the growing dissatisfaction in the workforce with the words “bad reps” as the headline which is why I kept it (at least until I lost it).
Next in my pile was an article on boards and their conversations about sustainability which I wrote about at one point. But I had circled the words “horse whisperers.” The consultant wrote about how the smartest executives were on the lookout today for “horse whisperers” who could send them signals about how things were being received at the company. Those two words, however, made me think about a good friend who called me a “reputation whisperer” a few years ago because I am often asked how companies are perceived reputationally and what ideas I had to help them recover by changing their behavior or communicating better. There are many more reputation whisperers now than there were several years back but I enjoy thinking that traumatized crisis-ridden companies and leaders can be helped by getting on the right track to recovery by following several simple and clear-headed steps, taken incrementally. Gentling reputation takes some skill, I like to think.