Category: Training & Development

7 Compelling Reasons to Educate, Train and Develop your Employees About Reputation Management


Managing an organization’s reputation may be the most important asset a CEO and his or her team manages – as a good reputation helps a company to attract business, investors, hire and retain the best employees, partner with other leading organizations and lower the cost of capital.

Reputation must be built from the INSIDE OUT, and encompasses everything that the organization says and does. Reputation is an intangible asset at risk on a daily basis.

Recent studies show that it can make up as much as 63% of a company’s market value. According to Steve Hamilton-Clark, CEO of TNS MENA “Reputation capital is the sum of the value of all corporate intangible assets, which include business processes, patents, trademarks, reputations for ethics and integrity, quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience”.

He goes on to say that “Indeed, companies must understand and influence the relationships they have with stakeholders – from customers, investors, business partners, influencers, the general public and employees. The ability to attract, maintain and motivate talented employees, as well as customers rests in a good reputation.”

Psychologists tell us that awareness precedes behavior change whilst the term preparedness refers to the state of being prepared for specific unpredictable events or situations. Awareness and Preparedness are therefore closely linked.

The level of preparedness is depended on the cumulative deposit of knowledge or the sum total of the learned behaviour of a group of people. This awareness that the psychologists talk about is created by knowledge and knowledge is acquired through information. (Even this process is fraught with danger – remember the Desert Survival or NASA team building exercises that some of you have done on Leadership training).

Therefore awareness can play a huge role in protecting and nurturing your organisation’s biggest asset and risk. How would a manager know whether he or she is adding or subtracting to that value, unless he or she has been made aware?

The next time your organization meets to decide what the training goals and priorities should be, ask yourself: “What are we doing to ensure that our managers understand the creation and protection of our Reputation”?

A good reputation means your name is trusted. You are considered a sound investment, purchase, trusted partner, and employer. All of this dramatically impacts the organization’s bottom line.

So, here are 7 compelling reasons why you should educate, develop and train your staff in reputation management principles.

1. To ensure that your business is well-positioned especially when reputational surveys such as the World’s Most Admired Company and Annual Best Employer surveys are conducted. Those businesses that obtain better scores, also have better revenues and a more sustainable footprint.

2. To remain competitive. If your employees are knowledgeable and motivated, they will build your reputation in a very competitive marketplace, and stakeholders like to do business with winners.

3. To understand your stakeholders needs and concerns and find ways to wow and engage them. You need to maintain good relationships with them and gather their support and trust.

4. To enable your employees to stand back from the day-to-day operations and understand the strategic implications of their work on the company’s largest and most important asset, and yet, biggest risk.

5. It sends one of the most powerful messages to your employees – that they and the organization’s reputation are valued. When your employees are anxious about maintaining the reputation of the institution, it is more important than ever to demonstrate a commitment to them, by giving them the know-how and understanding to manage that asset and risk.

6. To avoid Reputation Risk. When employees understand the value and risk of reputation as an asset, they will think twice before destroying it.

7. Training increases productivity in the short term, as well as the long term. It enhances reputation.

Think back to your own experiences. What a pleasure to deal with employees that are dedicated , focused and competent. The sooner you engage your staff, the earlier you can address and deal with the issues that may affect your reputation.

Read this post Education & Training Programs Woefully Reputation Deficient for more provocative insight based on research.

Should Reputation Management Training not feature on your company’s Training agenda? Are you leaving the deliberate management of this asset to chance?

Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class 7–8 June in Johannesburg

I will facilitate my premier training course at the Apollo Hotel In Randburg, Johannesburg from the 7th – 8th June.

This 2 day training course is the only one of its kind in Southern Africa. It was developed to bridge the gap between stakeholders and organizations wanting to develop and enhance their reputations.

Since its inception in 2006, the Stakeholder Reputation Master Class has received many accolades and became established as the must-attend course for industry experts looking to share best practices about stakeholder management and building company reputation. See references.

This 2 -day course shows business leaders and managers how to establish and maintain positive, mutually beneficial stakeholder relations. It examines amongst many things the steps, hints and practices necessary to build lasting collaborative relationships, which should ultimately result in a better reputation.

Based on a synthesis of ideas from community relations, marketing, strategic communication, reputation and stakeholder management, organizational change, sustainability and CSI thinking, it offers an integrated framework, as well as practical tools for developing new kinds of collaborative relationships.

To find out more, go to:

Education & Training Programs Woefully Reputation Deficient


On the 2nd September 2010 I made a point in a blog post Discuss. Dissect. Decide that Reputation is a mission – critical task and is of such importance that it should be included in every meeting’s agenda and be included as a must in the Company Learning & Development Training Calendar – as a must and not an elective.

My point and reservations have now been vindicated through some interesting research by a company ReputationInc .

Here are the main facts they discovered by examining the curriculums of the leading Executive MBA programs identified by the Financial Times. They were looking to see how reputation was incorporated into the course work.

  • 1 in 5 leading EMBA programs teach none of the 10 core reputation disciplines
  • Just one of the 50 leading EMBAs has ‘Reputation’ as a core module
  • Communications & relationship building skills are taught in less than 20% of programs
  • Government & policy relations is covered by fewer than 1 in 5 EMBA program
  • Governance and ethics is the most popular reputation discipline being taught to business leaders today (no surprise there)

ReputationInc cites McKinsey research that found that one-half of global CEOs say managing external affairs is one of their top-three priorities. Yet one fifth of the world’s top 50 global Executive MBA programs do not offer any training in the core disciplines of reputation management.

They report that the missing disciplines include CSR, stakeholder engagement, government relations, communications, and reputation management strategy.
More worrying still, just two of the top 50 business schools surveyed offer a dedicated reputation module and 80% offer no training on either public affairs or external communications – the two core “hands-on” skills executives need to build reputation. “The results reveal a frightening gap between the reputation skills business leaders must possess in 2012 and the cursory attention they get in the traditional executive MBA.” 
The programs with the highest ranked scores for including reputation are Henley Business School, Essec/Mannheim, and the University of Texas at Austin: McCombs.
I also agree with this statement: “On this evidence, companies and shareholders should be concerned that Executive MBA programmes risk creating ineffective business leaders who leave academia without the skills to actively manage the precious asset of corporate reputation,” said John Mahony, CEO, ReputationInc.  “Reputation management skills are vital for today’s CEO who sets the tone and mood for a corporation and must lead from the front in communicating the purpose of the brand and its value to society.

Many managers are not born ready to meet this challenge and will benefit from coaching and confidence building in reputation, something today’s Executive MBA courses fail to adequately provide.”

The problem though is that it is not just MBA modules that lack this, but also Director training programs, Government Officials training, town councillors development programs and Internal Learning & Development programs that suffer from this lack.

The research clearly shows that training in managing external relationships is mandatory for all executives (Again a vindication that my Stakeholder Reputation Management course has filled a very important gap these past few years)

It is my belief that the problem is derived from the past where it was believed that Reputation was naturally an extended PR & Communication function and discipline. And, although communication forms and integral part of the discipline, there is now a realisation that Reputation Management requires advanced systemic thinking skills and thorough understanding of intangible issues, reputation and strategic business drivers.

The report goes on to say that “These findings should be a red flag to corporate affairs directors and those responsible for leadership development in global corporations.  Knowingly or not, next generation leaders will be under-prepared
to steward their company’s corporate reputation in the coming decade.”

This statement just reminded me of the conversation in 2010 I had with the Learning & Development Manager of an international bank when they were considering my Stakeholder Reputation Management program for internal use. He was of the opinion that it was not a must, but should be an optional elective for senior executives.

How these words will haunt now. If only the financial services community understood that importance. Just perhaps there may have been less Reputation Damage.

As Warren Buffett, the world’s most astute investor have said many times: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it, and if you understand this YOU WILL DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY”

Funny though that most managers miss the last part of the quote. The research quoted above shows how important understanding this difference is.

The missing difference in the MBA programs – “ If I do this, or make this decision, will it harm my (own) or my company’s reputation?”

Understanding this difference is vital in an Era where Reputation is the New Bottom Line.

What is a “Reputational Athlete”?


A ‘Reputational Athlete’ is a manager or staff member into whom reputation
protection behavior has been so strongly ingrained that it becomes an automatic reflex.

These are staff members who routinely would ask the following question in meetings and decision making situations – “If we do this, will it harm our Reputation”?

So, how do we make staff members become reputational athletes. This is when the old adage came up in my mind – Repetition is the Mother of Skill.

The Cycle of Learning is perhaps the greatest model in guiding these efforts and is explained in a document called Reputation Risk Management & the Four Stages of Learning (The Conscious Competence Learning Model)

Download it here

This model describes the 4 stages of learning and how an employee is moved from one step to the other. I have adapted it to our field and I think you will find it to be valuable reading.

I have also taken it one step further to include the suggested 5th Step in learning – the so-called “Danger of Complacency” stage. This is the stage where an athlete continues to practise the skill which has become automatic and second
nature, but, over time, allows bad habits to form.

For example, a professional speaker, believing him or herself to be an expert, fails to prepare adequately for a keynote  presentation and drops a clanger.

These are the dangers of thinking you can do something so easily, you become

Complacency can also cause problems if the person doesn’t keep up-
to-date with the skill or profession.

As techniques and approaches move forward, the athlete remains behind using
set methods which have perhaps become stale, out-dated or less relevant to
today. This is personified for me when I first read the brilliant book – Core Performance by Mark Verstegen, in which he puts forward training methods for maximum results in a minimum time period.

It is vital for an athlete to assess and reassess personal competence (Example – So-called personal best in running)(perhaps against a new standard. This new standard could be new thinking on reputation, ethics, governance or corporate responsibility) and step back to the conscious competence stage until mastery is attained once again.

Immersing yourself in Social Media & Online Reputation Management techniques is an example of this type of activity. For instance, I have just enrolled in the New Media University. Yep, I started reading Brian Solis’ book – ENGAGE: The Complete Guide for BRANDS and BUSINESSES to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web.

So, how fit are you as a Reputational Athlete?

Test your Ability to Communicate

A Primary Skill for a Reputation Manager is the ability to communicate professionally in many circumstances and conditions.

However we all think we are capable communicators whilst the receivers of our communication sometimes differ from opinion.

Let’s really see just how valid this contention is.

Here is an oldie but goodie self – test that you can take to measure your ability to communicate.

Instructions for Self-Test

Print yourself a copy of the test. Then complete it within 4 minutes. This is sufficient time if you concentrate and work rapidly. Let’s go.


1. Read everything before doing anything.
2. Print your name in the upper right-hand corner.
3. Circle the work “name” in sentence two.
4. Draw two small squares in the upper left-hand corner.
5. Put an X in each square.
6. Sign your name under the title.
7. After the title, write “yes”.
8. Put a circle around each work in sentence six.
9. Put an “X’ in the upper left-hand corner of this paper.
10. Draw a triangle around the “X” you just put down.
11. On the reverse side of this paper, multiply 703 by 9,805.
12. Draw a rectangle around the work “paper” in sentence nine.
13. Callout your first name when you get to this point in the test.
14. If you feel that you have followed directions up to this point, callout “I have”.
15. On the reverse side of this paper add 8,850 and 9,805.
16. Put a circle around your answer in No. 15, put a square around the circle.
17. Count out loud in your normal speaking voice, backwards from 10 to 1.
18. Now that you have finished reading carefully, do only sentences one and two.

How did you fare?

Peeling an Onion–a Reputation Introspective

When I facilitate my reputation management training, I always relate that building the reputation of an organisation is like layers of an onion.

The more layers of protection there is, the less chance of damage in a crisis. On the other hand it is also vital to look for potential vulnerabilities and concerns that can penetrate these layers.

These are the questions that I give out to participants with the following instructions – Here is a list of the questions that we need to answer/investigate in order to manage Reputation adequately in in an organisation. Let this partial list govern your thinking during this workshop and when we prioritise a list of action items to manage.


  1. What kind of company do we want to be? What are our defining traits?
  2. How distinctive is our Reputation from the rest of the Industry’s reputation?
  3. How accurate and consistent are the images that we project to our different stakeholders?
  4. How can we strengthen our relationships with these various stakeholders?
  5. Evaluate the way your organisation currently manage Reputation Risk. Is it still appropriate?
  6. What are the issues and problems at Business Unit level that can impact reputation? 
  7. How do our internal features correspond to current perceptions of our Company by the different stakeholders?
  8. What policies, systems, procedures, rules, regulations, actions and behaviour are not consistent with the organisation’s desired reputation?

What are the issues/Problems affecting each Reputational Driver?

Upcoming Training Courses – Dates for the rest of 2011

I offer specialised multi-disciplinary training courses and workshops for Corporate Affairs, PR & Communication, Stakeholder managers & OD practitioners and teams. I work in-house with Leaders, Executives, The Board and staff based on need, as well as consultants and professionals who want to build a reputation in an interconnected knowledge economy.

I am currently offering an Early Bird Special booking discount for all courses starting in July – valid until the 10th June. Now is the time to diarise these dates and up your game. Book online by clicking on the links or e-mail for a registration form.

Here are the dates for my public training courses:

Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class

• 21 – 22 July
• 22 – 23 September
• 24 – 25 November

Reputation Risk Management Master Class

• 5 – 6 July
• 6 – 7 October
• 5 – 6 December

Strategic Employee Stakeholder Engagement

• 13 – 14 June
• 18 – 19 August

Marketing a Professional Practice

• 24 June
• 26 August
• 27 September
• 4 November

Other programs for in-house teams include Product Recall Crisis Management, Media Survival Skills, Crisis Management & Crisis Communication for Reputation Protection and Transforming Organizational Thinking Patterns.

Tips on Writing a Business Plan

170221_2837Writing a Business plan is a crucial exercise for anyone wanting to sell an idea or going into business.

It is essential that new entrepreneurs analyse and think through every conceivable aspect of their proposed business idea.

Doing a Business plan has a number of distinct advantages:

  • You will develop a holistic understanding of how the business operates;
  • You will clearly understand what viability, profitability, break-even, customer satisfaction and cost improvement means,
  • The compilation of a Business Plan will develop your conceptual, creative, analytical, problem solving and decision making skills.
  • Lack of planning is the one “management failure” singled out by Business development corporations and experts worldwide.
  • Drawing up a Business Plan (giving due thought to the process) is a tool just as a pilot will use a pre-flight inspection checklist or as PR professionals will use conference checklists.
  • Compiling a Business Plan is an exercise that will necessitate getting involved in all aspects of the Business.
  • As an employee the business planning process will help you develop, because it will give you practice in thinking about competitive conditions, and how you will market the business.

Putting your plans on paper will involve many processes.This is very important for the following reasons:

  • It forces you to research every conceivable area in your business
  • It forces you to arrange your thoughts in a logical order
  • It forces you to think through every eventuality before it occurs
  • It will become your guiding action plan in running your business or implementing your idea
  • It provides a platform through which you can sell your ideas to others.

To draw up a Business Plan is not that complicated, all it will require is time, patience and effort.

By doing the research yourself you will learn a lot of interesting things about yourself, your company and the proposed plans. But the knowledge and skills gained will pay off in the long run.

Whilst compiling your plan please bear in mind that anything you leave out of the picture will create an additional cost, or drain on your money, when it crops up later on. If you leave out or ignore certain items, your business is headed for disaster. It is simple – Be thorough. It is in your own interest.

During the 80’s and early 90’s I was a Senior Business Adviser and training specialist working for the then Small Business Development Corporation. The following list of tips is what I used to share with course delegates. It is based on my experience in analysing 1000’s of business plans.


  1. Always write with the proposed writer/evaluator in mind – Minimise industry specific language and jargon. Avoid highly technical descriptions of your products, processes, and operations. Use layman’s terms.
  2. Always ensure that your Business Plan is of a good appearance – First impressions are often lasting impressions.
  3. Base your Business Plan on irrefutable facts or evidence as far as possible.
  4. Some form of practical, do it yourself research is always better than just relying on old information.
  5. (See No.3 above). Spend plenty of time on market analysis. There is a school of thought that says: First get clients, then design the business around them.
  6. Spend time doing the financials, especially cash flow planning. At the end of the day it is cash that pays accounts, not profits which could be on paper. The need to forecast cash flow requirements is to set targets, encourage you to correctly estimate your working capital requirements (Many businesses fail due to running out of cash) and enable you to arrange financial assistance well in advance (Bankers are people that will lend you money only when you don’t need it – So show them you are organised).
  7. Test your ideas by asking a neutral outsider to for his/her opinion.
  8. Spend more time planning than regretting it later on.
  9. Outline every conceivable aspect of your proposed idea or venture. Remember it is often the small things that make a difference. “ You can sit on top of a mountain, but not a pin”.
  10. Design your business and plan from your customer’s viewpoint. This will ensure a customer service approach from the start.
  11. Substantiate. Substantiate. Beware assumptions.
  12. Always use supporting documentation such as media cuttings, letters of commendation to show the evaluator that your plan has merit.
  13. A business plan is a “living” document. It is not set in concrete.
  14. Update it as your knowledge grows and whenever your strategies become more concrete.
  15. Be realistic–base your projections on the results gathered from your analysis. Be honest about positive and negative findings.
  16. You may have two sets of business plans–one internal, one external. To be an effective management tool internal business plans usually are more detailed than those presented externally.
  17. After completing your plan, ask yourself the question “Will I be prepared to lend finance or effort based on this proposal”?

Upcoming Reputation Management Training Seminars

img-1109Here are the dates for my next round of public workshops. My last events were oversubscribed so it is essential that you register early to secure your seat. If you want me to train your team in-house, just give me a call.

4 – 5 May – My Flagship Training Event –Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class – It covers stakeholder profiling, stakeholder communication, stakeholder engagement & relationship management, as well as the criteria to use to measure the success of relationships and the ROI in programs.

13 – 14 June: Strategic Employee Stakeholder Engagement – Becoming an Admired Employer, from the inside out

5 – 6 July: Reputation Risk Management Master Class – This Masterclass is a must attend for those interested in closing the gaps between reputation management & risk management in the organization. It covers an in depth look at reputation risk, reputation root cause analysis, creating a reputation risk management framework and how to respond to a reputation event – online and offline.

And something for Consultants & Professional Service Providers:

19 May: Marketing & Promoting your Consulting Business

Register now!

Become a Sponge – Why you Should attend Many Training Events

j0422149Years ago I heard a statement that there is nothing as practical as a good theory!

There is also another angle that everyone should consider in their learning curve. To use an analogy the river runs deep in place, wide in others and shallow in some areas.

Thus some speakers or trainers will use different approaches, styles and techniques. This is all welcome.

A Few years ago there was a study conducted amongst the top 25 salesmen in the world. To what did they signify their success – CPD. Continuous Professional Development. When they asked one of the old timers why he attends the ABC of Selling courses once a year , his reply was – Athletes go back to basics, I sharpen my saw and who knows, the instructor, may just say something that will provide me with a breakthrough with my next client.

The point I am making is that the cycle of learning moves from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence (normally depicted as 4 stages). However there is a fifth stage and that is the one called Unlearning. If you are prepared to unlearn and understand that the mother of skill is repetition , then you will attend as many workshops, seminars and conferences as possible.

You will read as many books as possible. If you want to learn the art and science of making love, don’t just read sex magazines and books but also read about the Kama Sutra and tantric sex.

That way you will become like a sponge and be someone that can call on many ideas, theories and street smart skills.

A New Look at the Acronym SWOT

The acronym SWOT is often associated with analysis at the organisation level. However, I have adapted (see below) and used the technique at the team (or group) level, as well the individual level:

S = Strengths = What are we/you good at doing?

W = Weaknesses = What do we/you need help with?

O = Opportunities = What would we/you like to do?

T = Threats = What is preventing us / you from doing what?

A Lesson in Communication for Trainers

Two priests got into an argument about smoking and praying at the same time. They couldn’t resolve it, so they decided to each write the Pope and have him decide it.

When both had received their answers, they got together. "What did His Holiness tell you?" asked the first.

"He said that it was fine," answered the second. "What did he tell you?"

"Very strange," responded the first. "He told me that it was forbidden. What did you ask him, anyway?"

"I asked if it was all right to pray while smoking. He said that prayer is always appropriate. What did you ask him?"

"I asked him if it was all right to smoke while praying. He said that smoking would defame the sacred act, so it is forbidden."

Often, it’s all in how you ask the question!

Deon Binneman to facilitate a Crisis Management and Communication for Reputation Protection training seminar in Beijing

I have been contracted to run a course for Marcus Evans called Crisis Management and Communication for Reputation Protection at the Grand Millennium hotel, Beijing, China 24 – 25 March.

Check out the Event Website:

How’s your memory?

The following story has relevance for all of us who design programs and interventions of any kind.

A person in an organization went to a memory course. The week after he had taken it, he met a co-worker in a hall, who said to him, "Didn’t you go to a memory course last week?"

The graduate said "Yes, I did."

"Well," said his fellow, "how was it?"

Oh, it was wonderful," said the graduate. "They gave lots of really clever association techniques to aid our memory."

"Then you recommend it?" the co-worker inquired.

"Absolutely!" said the graduate.

"Well what was the name of it?"

The graduate paused, "A, a, what’s the name of the flower with pretty buds and long stems and thorns?" said the graduate.

"A ‘rose?’"

"Yeah, that’s right," said the graduate, turning back into his office and speaking to his secretary, "Rose, what was the name of that memory course I went to last week?"

Can you Say Stakeholder?

995748_91898411What is a stakeholder?

Most people who has some idea will say it is a person or group that has an interest in the organization. That is not correct.

The BROAD DEFINITION is that it is any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organisation’s objectives (Freeman, 1984).

However even that definition is not sufficient. To define a stakeholder you need to also determine their TYPES OF STAKES  which could be an interest, a legal or moral right, or ownership.

I like the Body Shop’s version and approach: A stakeholder is any group or individual who can affect or is affected by an organisation’s impact or behaviour – The Body Shop.

Stakeholders can also be classified into:

  • Those who are affected by a particular issue or program;
  • Those who have information, knowledge, resources or positions which are relevant to the issue;
  • Those who have some control over the outcome of the issue.

Thus internally there could be Subject Matter experts and other interested individuals that needs to be drawn into a program. Some may call it politics, I used to, but after years of working in this area, I have realised that it is about stakes, positions, views and finding ways of engagement.

The Body Shop classifies them into social and non-social groups even goes further to classify them:

Stakeholders are:

  • those whose interests are affected by the issue or those whose activities strongly affect the issue;
  • those who possess information, resources and expertise needed for strategy formulation and implementation, and
  • those who control relevant implementation, instruments (Funds, Law or Property)

What is most important to realize is that stakeholders are volatile and can change interest and positions very quickly often overnight. I always tell my audiences that we live in a world with more active, INFORMED, ACTIVE and SOPHISTICATED customers and communities than in the past.

You may want to check out my article on my Blog in this regard

If you would like to learn more about Stakeholder Management and its impact on business and organisational reputation, consider attending this event. Register your interest online and I will contact you.


What: Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class
This course will take the delegate from theory to practice, offering the opportunity to question and pre-plan for better reputation management practices and stakeholder management in their organization and will guide companies how to comply with the requirements of Section 8 of the King Code 3 on Corporate Governance. It contains best practice ideas to develop and implement a stakeholder reputation management engagement & communications plan. Based on a synthesis of ideas from community relations, marketing, strategic communication, reputation and stakeholder management, organizational change, sustainability and CSI thinking, it offers an integrated framework, as well as practical tools for developing new kinds of collaborative relationships.
When: Monday, November 29, 2010 (all day)
Where: Hotel Apollo, Ferndale

Cnr Bram Fischer Drive & Republic, Randburg
Johannesburg, Gauteng   South Africa


Improving Communication – Management’s responsibility

Analyse any manager’s job description and you will seldom find Communication Improvement as a defined job responsibility, task and defined output.

Why? Is it because the process is seen to be elusive? The PR Practitioner or Corporate Communications Manager’s job? Just as a point could be made that we do not need HR managers , since the management of human resources is a line management function, so we can argue the point that to leave communication to the Communications department is to court disaster.

Traditional organisational structures are very good at compartmentalizing functions causing the "traditional silo effect". There is an old saying: " That which is not inspected, will never be respected".

To improve communications flow in your organisation, I have formulated a number of questions for you to ponder over and to discuss at your next meeting.

  1. Have all managers been trained in the communications responsibilities of their work? I believe that all managers need to receive training in interpersonal, intrapersonal and organisational communication. We cannot assume that people know how to communicate. We must equip them with knowledge and skills to do so. No media will ensure correct communication. People make communication work.
  2. Who monitors standards of communication and the handling of problems that have communications implications? Too often Labour Relations problems are solved using traditional IR methods, only to later on realise that the real causes were not addressed.
  3. Are communication responsibilities written into their job descriptions?
  4. Who is pro-actively and professionally managing internal and external communications in the organisation, and does that person have the professional know-how, responsibility, authority, accountability and status ? And most importantly is that person sharing and coaching the rest of the organisation or is he or she just managing their silo?

Still in doubt? Then ask any employee what breaks down more often than the photocopier or delivery vehicle. They will all say Communication. Why not make it a manager’s responsibility? Why not provide them with the tools to improve it?

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What Is The Cost Of NOT Training Management in Reputation Risk & Crisis Management?

3338374358_7a2e62c539_o Reputational risk is the risk that an activity, action or stance performed or taken by a company or its officials will impair its image in the community and/or the long-term trust placed in the organisation by its stakeholders, resulting in the loss of business and/or legal action.

Essentially all risks and all related components of the group potentially impact on reputational risk.

Think about this one for a second…

You’re the CEO of a large company with a daily operating budget that floats somewhere in the millions. Your profit margin is already pretty thin and demands all your management skills to keep things in the black. Suddenly, something absolutely crazy and totally unexpected for which even your best contingency planning didn’t prepare you hits you dead on, sinking your thin profit margin into a deep, deep sea of red ink. I’m talking billions here…

No, this isn’t a cheap attempt at dramatics. It’s a nutshell summary of what happened to the airline industry after September 11. We could argue that those are exactly the times when managers really need to remember what they learned in management school. The truth is, however, that (a) We don’t teach them how to deal with crises like that; and (b) they don’t have time to worry about soft and hard skills, etc. when their pants are on fire. All they will worry about is whether they can save the “money”, because after all that is what the shareholders will hold them accountable for.

It is in situations like these that a person will display their normal crisis management style, and unfortunately what will happen is that managers will go for quick solutions rather than proper root cause analysis. There will be a tendency to address symptoms rather than real causes.

Part of the problem lies in our training that we provide in organisations. I am not saying that the quick and dirty phenomena is happening because training departments are doing such a lousy job, at least not from the perspective of understanding what management is about.

Where departments fail is in not performing regular simulations under which crisis readiness and decision making under stress can be tested. Where training departments fail is in not providing their managers with hard nose business skills training, things to do when faced with a crisis, things to prevent smouldering crises from erupting into perceptual crises, teambuilding and decision making under conditions of severe stress, etc.

What is needed is a solid understanding of the processes that support problem solving and ethical decision making and proactive thinking while studying management struggles, confusion, dilemmas, and the moral challenges managers face. Managers need training in understanding the many elements of crisis management, including such critical areas as crisis planning and preparedness, crisis communications, security of human, physical and intellectual assets and organizational behaviour, communication management problems and strategies.

That way we can assure that our management teams can make proper and ethical decisions when times of trouble come, decisions that will rather build than destroy a company’s good name. Let me ask you a question:

  • Does your company have a crisis management plan that has been truly tested and simulated in the past few months?
  • Does Crisis Management & Communication training feature in your training calendar for the year?

Unless it does, your company is a long way off from being adequately prepared. Don’t be upset if quick and dirty solutions are part of your organisation’s behaviour patterns. Sometimes incidents happen due to unfortunate oversight. Most of these times I believe they happen because management have not been sensitised to the importance of managing a company’s greatest asset – its reputation.

In many cases Reputational damage could have been prevented had management received training in the management of reputation.

Prevention is normally better than cure. Management teams should receive training in what reputation is, why reputation is an asset and a risk, the various drivers of reputation, how it is measured and destroyed, strategies for building, sustaining and protecting reputation, corporate governance, ethics and media understanding and media survival skills. It does not matter if you are working for Government, a Corporate or an NGO – Reputation remains the same and has the same impact.

Often Management asks about the cost of training. Why not consider the flipside of the coin? What is the cost of NOT training management in reputation understanding?

The question to ask is whether Organisation’s do enough to sensitise their management teams. BP did most of the above, and yet, even that wasn’t enough. Now that is even more scary!

If you would like to learn, how to prevent reputation risk emerging in your organisation, or would like to hone your crisis management skills, you would not want to miss this training event coming up.

What: Reputation Defence & Protection (Reputation Risk Mitigation) Masterclass
This two-day Masterclass provides comprehensive and practical coverage of all aspects on how to protect and defend an organisation’s reputation, and is based on more than 25 years research and experience on how to protect business reputations. The title word includes the verb defend. The reason – the word defend is generally defined as to take measures to make or keep safe from danger, attack or harm, and implies the actions of protecting, safeguarding, shielding, supporting or preserving. The requirement to defend can be associated with an individual, group, place or thing, and can be associated with honour, reputation, territory, assets and allies (stakeholders). It offers not only international best practices but also provides guidance how to implement a reputation risk management and protection framework. Worldwide reputation risk is seen as the highest-order risk and most dangerous to organizations, because of its volatility and unpredictability. Part of the problem is that some regard it as a strategic risk whilst others see it as a consequence of a risk. The way an organization therefore defines it, will have a material impact on how it will be mitigated and treated. Because reputation risk is volatile, unpredictable and often unquantifiable, it often happens that; what an organization regards as a small incident or issue, erupts and has a major impact, because stakeholders viewed it differently. Understanding the systemic interplay of factors is therefore vital in understanding this risk. If you’re responsible for ensuring that your organisation responds to and survives any form of reputation risk event – this Masterclass covers all the key steps necessary.
When: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 11:00 AM to Wednesday, July 21, 2010 12:00 PM
Where: Hotel Indaba

Johannesburg, Gauteng   South Africa

Ideas That Shaped My Training Approach



Someone e-mailed me a few nights ago with an interesting request, namely: ‘’I have never gotten any formal training in being a trainer and I am now contemplating needing something. What would you recommend as basics? I need to have short and effective trainings (like weekend format), cannot commit to a master degree of some sort yet (if you know of any in my area please let me know for the future),

This was my response:

There are many different ways to learning to become a trainer – from formal to informal and indirect. You could attend many different styles of train-the trainer courses, but I will go beyond that and share some thoughts about the process that shaped my thinking as a trainer.

Rule Number 1: It is not about how brilliant you are as a trainer. It is about your students. Did they learn, did they change?

Don’t let anyone ever kid you. Sure the way you present and stand and dress can affect the learning, but if communication is really about the 7% impact in the words we use, 38% in tone and 55% non-verbal then intent will be more important.

I will never forget my first lesson in real training. I was involved in Toastmasters (excellent for speaking) and other organisations, and had some experience in lecturing, etc. I then got promoted and joined what was then South Africa’s foremost Small Business Development Corporation – a new training department. The first lesson the then training manager, Ken Fisher shared with me; was the aforementioned lesson. He told me that I will be dealing with prospective entrepreneurs and that was not about how brilliant I was, but on whether I could help them to become successful at what they do.

That lesson remains. By now I have had twenty years experience in training, I am an international conference facilitator and speaker, but the focus remains: "What can I do to unlock my audience’s potential?

The lesson; if you want to act becomes a lawyer or an actor.

Second Lesson: As a trainer you should become like a secret service agent and have a bag of dirty tricks. If one thing does not work, use another. Learn as many variations, anecdotes, stories, etc, so that you can get the message across.

Read as many books on training, NLP, communication that you can – it will help you. But while you read ask yourself: "How can I use this?" This is a tactic used by the world’s most professional sales people – the ones who sell millions.

IMHO the books that helped me the most was: "Super-Teaching: Master Strategies for Building Student success by Eric P. Jensen" and the book ‘’Active Training” by Mel Silbermann.

Absolutely essential reading IMHO.

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