Caroline Sapriel’s special report on crisis communications in the July-August 2010 edition of Communications World (http://bit.ly/b4jEhb) makes several suggestions about holding the course and doing the right thing in the face of a crisis.
Her final point discusses the importance of values and culture. She notes that, “over and over, when mistakes are made during crises, they express the opposite of what the company claims in its statement of corporate values and principles.”
A crisis is where a customer ultimately sees whether or not their service or product provider “walks the talk” and sees the incongruity between words and actions.
I attribute this to senior management, and subsequently employees, not taking visions and values seriously. I just spoke to a representative of a relatively new company and inquired about the values of the organization. I was flippantly told four values that told me either this firm doesn’t have a formal set of values or the person with whom I was speaking was not aware of them.
What are the values of your firm and your clients? How do you communicate those to your employees and customers? How do you model them to your employees if you’re a c-level executive or a member of the management team? What would your customers describe as your firm’s brand values?
I know a lot of c-level executives think vision, values and mission is a bunch of qualitative b.s. Having competed against them, I would guess Enron executives looked at them this way.
What are your personal brand values? How do you differentiate yourself from other professionals in your field? Would your associates agree? Are your personal brand values consistent with your company’s brand values?
I urge you to think about this before a crisis arises. Your customers, and possibly your prospects, are already aware if you do not have any brand values or are not living up to those you have stated. If so, this is hindering your ability to create long-term relationships and to convert prospects to customers.
How important are mission, vision and value to you and your firm?