24 May What Really Happens When Executives Fail?
An interesting event occurred the other day. A high-level veteran I personally know, tried to persuade me that an article I wrote had no merit. This was quite interesting to me, since what I cited came from a national news story, validated through several credible media sources. I walked away befuddled, but also realizing there’s a bigger problem which needs to be addressed.
So what’s the problem? Executives have enormous amounts of power that when misused, has severe consequences on people – the employees or volunteers. When a company puts comfort and convenience before the brand, there are consequences. Those consequences usually involve a drop in stock value; customers who refuse to buy their products or services and the loss of customers. Remember, it’s easier (cheaper also) to keep a good customer than it is to find a new one.
You see, consumer trust is everything and when it’s abused, no matter the good intentions, the brand is tainted. For how long? The answer is… “depends.” The level of damage to trust and credibility will determine whether the damage is repairable or not.
However, one thing’s for certain, admitting the mistake and accepting responsibility is a must to undo the damage.
The damage may not only be to the customer base; it may include your workforce. You see, they are the ones taking the brunt of any backlash. A person can only take so much negative before they quit. And being put in a situation of defending bad policy is unethical and immoral.
How do you think the employees of Enron felt when they lost everything? My assumption is they felt used and betrayed. Moreover, unfairly, they were viewed as part of the problem. The character assault one must take, if they continue to work there, is brutal. Therefore, the damage may erode the company’s most valuable asset – their employees. After all, without them, how do you stay in business?
The point is the adage “…it’s nothing personal; it was strictly business…” is nothing more than a crutch for unethical, immoral or illegal behavior. When someone defends that, well, they must be feeling guilty.
Choices have consequences, and often they affect others. As we ponder what we would do in a similar situation, first think about doing the right thing the first time. This way, when faced with a similar decision, we choose the right one and don’t have to back track later.
Be a part of the solution and not part of the problem, regardless of the position or title you hold.