How values help build your reputation

When employee behaviour aligns with corporate strategy, wonderful things can happen, says Dr Nicky Garsten. But when values are not understood or not practiced, the result can be disastrous for businesses.

by Nicky Garsten

Why are values an important facet of reputational management? After all, values tend not to be mentioned in definitions of reputation. Nevertheless, values underpin much thinking about reputation. Values are core principles and beliefs. They give organisations distinction and help them stand out in their marketplaces, according to the Arthur W. Page Society report The Authentic Enterprise. There are several reasons why values are important to reputational management.

Firstly, values steer corporate decision making. They facilitate and support corporate strategy. For example, Octopus Energy links its values to decision making: it states that its values are a way of holding its “management to account”. More specifically, one of its values is, “doing the right thing by our customers and team, over short-term gain”. Indeed, reputational management usually involves making decisions that prioritise the long term over the short term.

Secondly, given that reputation is the sum of an organisation’s stakeholders’ perceptions, the behaviour of every employee shapes an organisation’s reputation. Corporate culture is about how employees behave. Corporate culture, in turn, is shaped by values.

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