The changing world of responsibility

Corporate Brand Personality by Lesley EverettWhen researching my book Corporate Brand Personality, I began to quickly realise that at the core of the emerging breakdown of a culture of trust and respect in many organisations, is the diminishing level of responsibility and accountability taken by individuals.

It has sadly become an accepted state in business – that of a general acceptance that people will not do what they say they’re going to do; failure to follow through with solving a problem and resolving a situation, not taking responsibility along with an attitude of ‘it’s not my job’, and lack of accepting responsibility for mistakes made or delays created. Apologies I’ve found are no longer an accepted courtesy but rather sadly appear to be perceived to be a sign of weakness in business.

The deep concern this creates is that in a world where you’re setting a high level of expectation of positive experience with your company from your advertising and social media marketing campaigns, you are instead producing a very convincing culture, internally and externally, of perceived arrogance, apathy and lack of authenticity. Of course, I don’t need to spell out the business impact of this.

So why is it that individuals don’t take responsibility anymore, and are not holding themselves accountable for solving problems and seeing things through? Perhaps it comes partly from a culture of lack of respect for people from senior management down and line managers, little empowerment and a resulting feeling of being under-valued?

You may have an internal focus on your employee engagement scores and improving them. But are they really improving at the rate and to the level you need and want them to? An improvement in employee engagement is often seen as something we need to achieve in order to retain and attract talent or to improve our ‘employer of choice’ ratings, but how about considering the impact of a decrease or even static employee engagement score on your corporate brand and the customer experience, and the resulting market share and your profitability?

Research from the Hay Group has found that companies with highly engaged people outperform firms with the most disengaged folks by 54% in employee retention, 89% in customer satisfaction and 400% in revenue growth. It’s no wonder that HR Directors and CEOs from around the globe agree that employee engagement is of critical importance.

Your employee engagement should therefore perhaps be more of a focus with real resources invested, than it has been until now. Leaving it to chance and not putting in the levels of effort and focus that are needed, may not be just affecting the obvious employee engagement issue, but may mean you are inadvertently losing trust and respect amongst your customer base and ultimately putting your business at risk.

Read more about this topic and the ways in which Walking TALL International help companies to address this challenge, in Lesley Everett’s new book Corporate Brand Personality (Kogan Page, Feb 2016).

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