Manage Your Image

Take the time to control your company’s most valuable asset.

It doesn’t show up on your P&L. You won’t find it listed among your tangible assets, and you don’t consider it part of your company’s intellectual property, but your image is the most valuable thing you own. It’s also one of the most difficult assets to control.

We have insurance policies to protect against loss. We set aside reserves to cover unexpected costs. We most likely cross-train staff members in anticipation of personnel changes. But a sullied reputation or poorly managed image is nearly impossible to restore.

BE INTENTIONAL

Good company reputations don’t just happen; you must work at building them. Perhaps the best rule of thumb comes from Proverbs 29:18 (KJV), “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” With just a bit of stretching, this verse could be adapted to mean that a lack of information causes people to make things up, to assume the worst.

As humans, our natural tendency is to dwell on worst-case scenarios when we don’t have enough data. So, the best way to prevent your company’s reputation from falling apart is to proactively tell your story. By giving your staff adequate information you avoid opportunities for their minds (and mouths) to wander where you’d rather they not go. The best approach to maintaining a healthy reputation is to provide a consistent stream of substantive information.

SHINE YOUR LIGHT

Everything you say or do as a manager contributes to the mosaic of your company’s image. Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Tell people what’s going on.

The most common excuse for not maintaining an effect image-management program is a faulty sense of what true humility is. In a misguided effort to appear humble, some managers will shun the glare of publicity and say something like, “Our reputation will speak for itself.” It won’t.

Jesus provided the encouragement when He told His followers to let their light shine so that all might see their good works and glory God. The apostle Paul frequently sought situations where he could speak or debate theology before throngs of people.

Remaining quiet when your staff or your customers clamor for information can easily be interpreted as a sign of having something to hide. If you have legitimate reasons for saying nothing, step up to the podium and say that. There are times when saying you can’t elaborate is an acceptable approach, but being completely silent is seldom a good idea.

Your duties as a manager include stewardship of your organization’s most valuable asset: its image. A good image is worth more than all your inventory and capital holdings. Everything else is replaceable.

God has given you a burning-bush imperative to lead your organization. Don’t squander this by taking a lackadaisical approach to image management. You most likely conduct regular meetings to review the company’s financial position, so take a similar amount of time to do the same with your reputation. Ask, as Jesus did, “What do people say about us?”

People are going to talk about you. That’s a given. Do all that you can to ensure that what they’re saying is the truth.

—Jim Seybert