Considering how stakeholders will react to change is key
The impact of stakeholder trust on reputation and the bottom line is at an all-time high, yet organizations are burning what little faith their proponents have left on a daily basis through penny pinching, poor customer service, or a simple lack of caring from top to bottom.
A recent LinkedIn post by author and entrepreneur Daniel Burrus caught our eye by calling out the increasingly common model of organizations driving the bottom line by tacking on additional fees, slashing standard services, and other changes that are all but guaranteed to raise the hackles of stakeholders, and sharing an elegantly simple way to avoid this pitfall that will leave your trust account in the red:
Here’s a better approach: Before you implement any new product, service, or change in policy or procedure, ask yourself, “Where is trust, currently, between our company and our customers?” Then ask yourself, “If we implement this change in this way, what happens to trust?” If the answer is, “Trust will go down,” then don’t do it in that way.
Notice the words I used. I didn’t say “don’t do it.” I said, “Don’t do it in that way.” The insight is: It’s not what you do; it’s how you do it. It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. It’s not what you implement; it’s how you implement it.
So the next question is: “How could we change how we say it, do it, implement it, or charge for it so that people would maintain trust?”
As in so many other areas of crisis management, maintaining trust is very much about the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Looked at from the executive suite, a change that will bring profits up with little effort looks absolutely delightful. Look at that same change from the perspective of an outsider, however, and you’ll often see the situation in a very different light.
Now, what happens when you have no choice but to implement a policy you know will be unpopular? As Burrus points out, it’s not necessarily what you do, but how you do it. Think again, what would make me feel better if I were the one being affected by this change? Typically an explanation and a dose of compassion are due, but you’ll have to really explore the minds of your outside stakeholders to see what further action is warranted.
Keeping your trust account in good shape is a crisis management must that, left neglected, can, and has, put organizations of all kinds out of business. Don’t wait until you’re taking flak to start worrying what people think of you. If you want to stick around, begin building trust now, and fight every day to keep the balance of that account as full as you possibly can.
The BCM Blogging Team