5 ways to destroy a corporate reputation in under 5 minutes

By Robert Half on 9 December 2019

Corporate reputations are tricky. To quote the famous American investor Warren Buffett, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

As an employee, your public persona can reflect not just on you, but also on the company you work for.

Protect both you and your employer’s corporate reputation by avoiding these reputation-busters that could ruin your company’s brand in under five minutes:

1. Tardiness

Whether it’s being late to a client meeting or missing project deadlines, a failure to honour time commitments can reflect badly on you and your company. Being punctual tells clients and your work associates that you value their time.

Time management is especially of the essence in this side of the world and can go a long way to establishing a positive corporate reputation.

Stay ahead of your time commitments by practicing good time management techniques, such as prioritising your work and delegating when necessary. Make use of technology aids, such as email and mobile reminders, to help you be on time for meetings and project deadlines.

2. Being careless on social media

Social media can be sometimes a complex communication medium: it’s useful to engage with customers directly, but it can backfire on your corporate reputation if you post insensitive remarks – even on your personal page.

In today’s hyper-connected world, word goes around quickly. What may be seen as a harmless remark may come back to bite you within minutes.

Your social media post may even go viral and damage your company’s online corporate reputation, which may ultimately cost you your job.

This is exactly what happened to wealth manager, Anton Casey, who posted several choice remarks about Singaporeans on his personal Facebook profile. When the news of the public backlash against Casey reached his company, they swiftly terminated Casey’s employment.

3. Accidentally leaking company data

With bring-your-own-device or BYOD becoming more common in the workplace, today’s professionals have easier access to company resources on their personal device.

However, this easy access to data also heightens the risk of accidental leakage, which can damage corporate reputation and even affect the company’s bottom-line.

While you may not deliberately set out to hack your company’s database, you may contribute to exposed cyber-security by using weak passwords on your company devices, allowing unauthorised access to storage drives, or not properly disposing printed confidential data.

According to KPMG Singapore, employees contribute to 58% of data fraud incidents – with a significant number of them being accidental.

Prevent accidental data leakage by pushing for good cyber-security policies to be implemented in your company, as well as getting yourself trained on potential security threats.

4. Spreading gossip about clients

Demanding clients surface from time to time. As tempting as it is to let off some steam about them, spreading gossip about clients can adversely affect your corporate reputation.

Gossip by nature, according to the Society of Human Resources casts doubts on your credibility and professionalism - and as a representative of your company, it undermines stakeholder trust in your company as well.

For instance, if you’re actively engaging new clients, allowing gossip or confidential information about other clients to slip into the conversation can lead them to immediately think twice about doing business with your company.

When referencing other clients in work-related conversation, always err on the side of being neutral and professional . This helps you redirect the focus of stakeholder conversations back to what your company can deliver.

5. Lying

Trust, an important part of corporate reputation, is the fuel that keeps businesses running. Lying about work-related data, events and mistakes not only undermines the trust that your company has in you, but also (depending on the scale of the lie) public trust in your company as well.

Ironically, lying is often a defensive move with the assumption that covering up mistakes will preserve corporate reputation reports the Bloomberg. However, this assumption doesn’t hold water: lies become harder to cover up over time, and one small misstep is all it takes for the whole façade to crumble.

Exposed lies can ruin a company’s carefully built corporate reputation in a matter of moments. A Bloomberg article reported that companies with lying CEOs took at least 5 years to recover from their damaged corporate reputation, even after terminating the employee. Besides misrepresenting information, lying in a corporate setting also includes lack of disclosure and due diligence.

Keep your corporate reputation intact

As a professional, you represent your company in more ways than one – not only in the work that you produce, but also in your conduct and work ethic (both online and offline).

It is important to maintain a positive brand impression for sustainable business growth. Protect your corporate reputation by being vigilant about these instant reputation-busters.

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