2019-12-03 Issue 79 Fundamental Behavior 24 Be An Ambassador
When I was 14 years old, I traveled to Japan for the first time as an exchange student. Foreigners were a rarer sight in Japan at that time than they are now, especially in rural Hiroshima, and my blond hair and blue eyes made me doubly conspicuous. I had left the United States as an individual used to blending in with the crowd, but it didn’t take long to realize that in Japan, people were making judgments about all Americans based on what I said or did. It was the first time I understood what it means to be an ambassador.
Similarly, every time we interact with our customers and our communities, they are judging YKK based on our individual actions. This is both a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous responsibility. We may think we are acting as individuals, but really we are representing our group. Our actions have the power to change the perception of YKK—either positively or negatively. Our behaviors affect YKK’s reputation.
Reputation is a “soft” concept that you may feel is the role of senior executives, corporate communications, or marketing to manage. But the companies that are consistently at the top of the “most reputable” companies list compiled by the non-profit Reputation Institute emphasize that every employee has the responsibility to put the well-being of the people they serve first.
Reputation Institute defines reputation as “an emotional bond between organizations and their key stakeholders — customers, investors, employees, policymakers.” One way to build that bond and protect our reputation is through our third Core Value, “Build trust, transparency and respect.” YKK’s founder, Tadao Yoshida, gave us some great advice on how to build trust. He wrote, “Anyone can gain a certain degree of trust. However, what is important is transparency in that trust. This is not something that can be gained overnight. It must be trust that is built up over such a long period of time that it emanates from your entire body and mind. If you speak ill of others, act in a manner that causes problems for others, and seek only personal benefit, the trust you have built up over many years will disappear.”
YCA has started conducting video interviews with employees who are terrific ambassadors for YKK. We have been sharing these videos on our website and social media as a way of building trust with our customers and our communities. One employee we have featured, Lupita Alcantara at YKK Snap Fasteners Manufactura Mexico S.A. de C.V., is a great example of an employee who reflects the YKK philosophy and Fundamental Behaviors in everything she does both inside and outside YKK. You can view her story here.
I encourage you to view and share these great stories with your internal and external customers. The authentic voice of our employee ambassadors does so much more to build trust and a positive reputation than any glossy marketing campaign ever could. You can view the full library of videos on our website at https://connect.ykknorthamerica.com/meet-our-employees.
And if you would like to tell your story, please let me know!
Vice President, Public Relations and Communications
YKK Corporation of America