An optical illusion that tricks your brain into thinking circular patterns are rotating, even when they are not, illustrates the difference between perception and reality. “Seeing may be believing;” but is it true?
Our senses give us perception—as edited by the brain. For example, when you look into a mirror, you see a mirror image of yourself. Yet the world sees you in reverse. So to understand how you appear to others, you must ask them. This can help you get closer to understanding reality: how the situation actually is—based on having access to all the information.
The same is true for your company. Customers, employees and partners are the only ones who can objectively tell you how your company and products appear to them. Their opinions are important because marketplace perceptions become business realities. If these impressions differ from your own, you must execute reputational management strategies to close the gap.
This is doubly important if a crisis occurs affecting the image of your company.
Listening allows you to understand how your prospects and customers talk about your product or services, or those of your competitors. It allows you to understand their needs and desires, so you can give them what they want, when they want it. This can help you align your reputation goals for your company with others’ perceptions.
Finding True Reality
A reputational assessment can play a vital role in gathering candid thoughts from the outside about how people view your company. Typically conducted by an independent third-party like RepUs, a reputation audit allows your stakeholders to provide insights that can uncover issues and/or themes you may have to address to improve your company’s image. You will be in a better position to understand your company’s reputational strengths and vulnerabilities, and we’ll make sound recommendations to improve your overall image.
It’s also helpful for your management team to hear what you’re doing right so you don’t mistakenly “fix” what’s working well.
Leadership Perceptional Haze
Every leadership team is afflicted with some degree of perceptional haze. This is the tendency to only see the team’s point of view, without fully acknowledging the perspective of others.
Take, for example, the Katzenbach Center’s Global Culture Survey of more than 2,000 respondents representing a broad cross-section of organizations in 50 countries, and almost as many industries. Respondents were asked whether they believed that “culture” was a priority on their leadership agenda: 71 percent of C-suite and board respondents answered in the affirmative, compared with only 48 percent of those in non-management roles.
The difference demonstrates how prevalent the culture gap is, and why the need to close it is urgent and undeniable. Leaders can’t expect to see results from culture initiatives unless they take into consideration how their staff already thinks and feels.
Likewise, the same holds true for solidifying your good corporate reputation. To attune your perception of your company to reality—without a haze or founder’s syndrome—you must understand the diversity of elements that affects the overall impression of your company. After seeing things from a new perspective, a respected reputation comes from being open to change, when necessary.