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HRM TV: Mitigating reputation damage

Ricky Nowak shares learning and leadership development ideas in five minutes to keep you focused and ready to tackle the day’s challenges. This week, instead of five ideas, Ricky focuses on one big idea: damage to reputation.

Leadership is about many things. It is about many people and requires multiple skills and disciplines to be effective. Here is one big idea today that encompasses many facets of leadership.

It is about the way we can mitigate reputation damage.

We all know it takes many years to build a reputation and a lot of hard work and effort on so many levels. Good leaders nurture their relationships and reputation as it is the core to business. However, things can go pear-shaped very quickly irrespective of ill intent.

The case in point today is about a CEO of a large professional services firm who was approached by Alex, a senior staffer of 25 years who requested three months leave to commence urgently due to the unexpected news that his partner was diagnosed with a terminal illness and needed full-time care. Although the CEO was certainly empathic, he said he would need to put a few things in place and it may take a few days and he would be get back to him. Whether you feel this was a fair comment at the time of not, this is not the issue.

Yet, what should have taken three days to get things in order, took three weeks of the precious time he no longer had with his partner. So, when the CEO finally told Alex he had worked things out, Alex told him he had too. He had worked out he no longer wanted to work for that CEO, nor that company, and decided to leave effective immediately and took with him all company knowledge, insight and value with him.

I bet you are not surprised. But the CEO was! He had little emotional intelligence but even less ability to deal with tough decisions. The consequences of poor decision making cost the company more than the loss of a loyal smart employee. The issue was posted all over social media, the company went into reputation damage and current staff lost all respect for their CEO.

I bet you are also not surprised with that either! As leaders in HR and leaders in business our role is to ensure we care for people with a high level of integrity, much the same as we care for the financials. And we should care for them no less – in fact more. We know this, but sometimes even the people in the highest positions either forget or don’t know how. Our role is to be mindful of cost of a poor or no decision and weigh it up against how this can impact dramatically against us.

Our role as leaders is to recognise when skills are poor, behaviours need calling out, and address these type of situations with care, commitment and courage – quickly. If you would like to know more about reputation damage in business and how to address it, email Ricky at

This video is part of a series of vlogs on big ideas and leadership in HR. Check back for five bits of wisdom to keep you focused and moving forward at work. Have a question, a tip to share or a topic to discuss? Tweet using the #fivebigideas hashtag or email Ricky at

Check out AHRI’s social media pages on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for more. And don’t forget to follow HRM’s editor Amanda Woodard on Twitter @HRMeditor for updates about what’s happening in the HR industry.

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