Businesses don’t fail, leaders do. In the words of Henry Kissinger, “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” Leaders need to walk their talk; operational governance is an important building block in managing a laasting, positive reputation. Regine le Roux, MD of Reputation Matters, shares insights on how this key element exemplifies your reputation to your stakeholders.
Building a strong corporate reputation is all about consistency, which is fundamental in successfully running an organisation. To ensure consistency within an organisation, it is vital to align operational governance namely the organisation’s rules, processes, procedures and policies to its strategic intent, and ultimately having the leader of the organisation walk their talk.
“Operational governance essentially establishes the ground rules for conducting your day-to-day business; its purpose is to clarify the intervention scope of some areas, defining reporting and decision flows, what needs be done and by whom and who the buck stops with,” shares le Roux. “It is the organisational component that establishes the frontier with operational activities. In our line of work, we very often see that there is no alignment between the strategic levels of an organisation and their operational levels. They might have very good intentions to give excellent service or provide quality products, without having the necessary operational governance in place,” continues le Roux.
Communicating policies and procedures ineffectively poses a colossal threat to an organisation’s reputation, especially on internal governance structures. It is therefore crucial not only to have procedural structures and policies in place, but also to communicate these internally, so that all parties understand what they should be doing, how they should do it and why it is important.
Le Roux motivates that a two-way conversation will enable feedback from key stakeholders to raise and address any uncertainties before issues arise; in that way the processes can be refined even further.
“Leadership within the organisation needs to be seen as ‘walking the talk’, and leading by example; they themselves need to be seen following protocol when it comes to company rules to ensure business continuity,” says le Roux. “As a leader myself, it is paramount that I lead by example by keeping in line with my organisation’s vision, mission and values. Similarly, it is also important to have operational governance structures in place for all stakeholder groups, including external groups such as: customers, suppliers, distributors and the media, to name just a few. The first step is to identify key stakeholder groups, each with its own set of governing structures and communication platforms in place,” she adds.
“It is essential that everyone within the organisation is familiar with company rules for each of the stakeholder groups so that they can speak with the same voice when engaging with different stakeholders,” explains le Roux. Echoing the same message from within is crucial for organisations. It eliminates confusion and inconsistency; and ultimately builds trust in how the company operates.
As an example, having clear and consistent payment terms and conditions outlined across the board for customers and suppliers from the outset of the relationship, will level the playing field and let everyone know what the expectations are right from the start. This will allow everyone to plan accordingly. Without procedures in place, an organisation sets itself up for a catastrophe. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
“When it comes to corporate governance, communication is the glue that brings it all together. Consistent communication about operational governance builds reliability, which ultimately builds trust and positively impacts corporate reputation,” concludes le Roux.