5 simple steps toward organizational success

Whether you are in the business sector, part of a not-for-profit or with an amateur sport Association, “success” can be measured many different ways.

For some businesses, profit and earnings per share matter. But even financially-driven organizations will only succeed for so long if they fail to engender loyalty and support from stakeholders.

Organizations are generally successful if they have earned credibility over time. In truth, trust and credibility take a long time to earn and very little time to lose. But building an organization’s trust and credibility—and retaining both—matters a great deal.

Here are five simple ways an organization can take a step in the right direction to build and maintain that often hard-to-attain credibility:

  1. Ensure that stated company values lead to real action. Many companies spend a lot of time and money on creating mission statements and value propositions, but if organizational leaders as well as staff don’t support the words with action, eventually they are found out—and customers/stakeholders will ultimately tune out.
  2. Responsiveness matters. It’s true that experience in life and in business reminds us we can’t satisfy everyone all the time. And it’s unrealistic to think that even if an individual or an organization does a great job of "communicating" that people will always be pleased. The reality is that some of your customers may not get the answers they want and they will still be unhappy. But while we can’t always get customers, etc. to agree with us, we can at least be respectful and responsive when those customers or stakeholders contact us with a concern. Organizational leaders need to be active, engaged and responsive. Staff needs to do the same.
  3. Consult and really listen. Again, simply consulting with stakeholders does not mean an organization will act on everything that is brought to their attention. But if organizational leaders really listen, it can create two-way dialogue and opportunities for mutual understanding and improved relationships that might otherwise have been unlikely.
  4. Transparency. Nowadays transparency is an important word and one that is used a lot, but in reality, it is virtually impossible for most organizations to be completely “transparent”. That said, when a genuine effort is made to communicate about not only successes but also missteps, it’s a start. Organizations that never acknowledge mistakes and only "spin" the positives aren’t credible. Inviting employees, customers and all stakeholders into your thought processes can help build trust. It’s important to explain the "why" behind decisions. Again, people may not agree with you, but they have a right to know.
  5. Follow up. It’s been said many different ways but the bottom line is the same: if an organization—or individuals within an organization—say they are going to do something, it is imperative that there is indeed follow up. You have to do what you say you’re going to do. If not, at the very least, you have to explain why the promised follow up didn’t happen. One error along these lines might be forgiven. Two such missteps create a “reputation” that is difficult for a company or organization to shake. If it happens more than that? Consumers won’t forget.

Will the above steps guarantee success? Not necessarily. But if genuine efforts are made in each of these areas, chances are an organization will be seen as accountable and will also be respected and trusted. And with that comes that much coveted long-term (and well earned) credibility.