Alignment is building long-term relationships with all internal and external stakeholders, those you depend on as an organisation. Where reputation is a means, alignment is an end.
Communication staff are focusing increasingly on building alignment, the degree to which you are able to build long-term relationships with both your internal and external stakeholders. This has two consequences. First, communication professionals need to really deliver, they must initiate dialogue with all those who criticize you most or demand something from you. That’s much more complicated than it might seem, but a good communication professional knows exactly how to direct this process. The second consequence is that you must ensure that both parties actually listen to one other’s arguments, sparking true dialogue.
Criticism keeps you on your toes. If criticism is communicated, you at least have the opportunity to respond to it.
Prof. dr. Cees B.M. van Riel is professor of corporate communication at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, and vice chairman and co-founder of Reputation Institute. He received IPR’s Pathfinder Award in 2011.