Reputation in Malaysia
[Sorry for the delay in writing. Long story, short. The short story is that I am back after weeks of traveling and saving my posts.]
I have been traveling far and wide co-presenting our super new research on Employee Activism. It has definitely struck a chord as companies are increasing interested in finding those pro-activist employees that will go to the mat for them. Harnessing the power of your employees is without a doubt an essential reputation builder. If you read the article in the recent New York Times magazine section on Why You Hate Work, you will see that how people feel at work profoundly impacts how they perform. Our research found that leadership can play a critical role in cultivating engagement.
Back to part of my trip. I found myself in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In Asia Pacific, it seems to be affectionately referred to as KL so I started using that abbreviation as well. At this stop, I was asked to talk about reputation management, my favorite topic of all. Considering the horrific tragedy over the missing MH370, I knew that I had to think about how reputation impacts country reputation. After some thought, I’d say that my message was that reputation loss is the new normal. In Malaysia and for the airline itself, it became clear to me that Malaysian people are not accustomed to be being so front and center and under such intense scrutiny by the world at large. Who would be? However, when you think about some of the most visible reputation crises of the past few years – BP for one – you can’t help think that this is the new game we are in. I know I have said this a few times now but it’s nearly impossible to name the companies whose reputations have not taken a hit of some sorts in recent years. As I have also said, every company, leader and country gets their 15 minutes of shame along with their 15 minutes of fame. Although Malaysia’s reputational hit is lasting far more than 15 minutes, it would have been out of the news if there had been some closure. And there just has not been any finality as the search continues to this day. I found it hard not to be reminded of how Americans were glued to their TV sets and smartphones watching the video cam of the BP oil spill for what seemed like months.
So my ultimate insight into the Malaysia situation was yes, this crisis has affected your reputation but you’ve just joined a large unexclusive club of organizations and entities that have watched their reputations get battered about. Just hang in and repair will soon come.