Some of our clients recently told us the biggest challenges their organisations will face in the next three to five years are remaining relevant in a rapidly changing market, transforming culture and operations, and strengthening stakeholder relationships.
These are essentially the wheelhouse of excellent communication and engagement teams and can be boiled down to reputation, change, engagement and trust.
However, not all teams are set up to excel in these key areas now nor into the future. Here’s why:
- There is a temptation to repeat what was done before. The result is that over time, what that team delivers becomes misaligned with the needs of the CEO, where the organisation is going and the complex and ever changing demands of stakeholders.
- The pressures on most communication teams are never ending. The team fills every spare minute often with reactive activities, leaving little bandwidth to pause and examine a) whether the team is fit for purpose now and into the future, and b) whether it has the right strategy in place for the business needs.
- Funding for a team role is time-limited and project specific. This can lead to locking in headcount but not necessarily to address your area of greatest need. Over time, the compound effect of this is that the team appears bloated and disjointed.
- Optimising headcount and coordinating delivery is tricky when the structure and strategy isn’t quite right and there are too many roles outside of the central team, or not enough.
- Some teams don’t ask for feedback or they don’t have structured feedback processes in place. Feedback can be the best intelligence for insights into the expectations of the business and, what is required of the team to address these.
- Alternatively, the feedback throws out wicked problems which are hard to solve.
These can all lead to a management perception that the communication and engagement team is too big, doesn’t have the right skills, isn’t functioning well and is out of step with where the organisation is going.
Finally, without strong advocates for the communication and engagement practice at the C-suite, further investment in the communication and engagement function can atrophy or worse, result in cutbacks. Both will negatively impact the team’s ability to influence and affect change.
This can be challenging when you have a dedicated and hard-working team.
The right team brings success
Effective communication and engagement teams create advocates at the most senior levels. They imbue a confidence within the organisation that they are nimble, effective, future fit and able to evolve with the changes the sector or business faces.
They propel the organisation’s reputation internally and externally to where it needs to be, paving a smoother runway for leaders to achieve operationally.
They enrich the internal culture strengthening each employee’s connection to the organisation’s ‘why’ and accelerating the journey to success.
And they identify, nurture, and influence external stakeholder relationships which are critical enablers of progress and enhancers of reputation and potential supporters or advocates when that inevitable crisis hits.
Getting it right
Our clients work across a host of sectors and industries. As such, we are privy to seeing many communication and engagement teams in action. We see what works and what doesn’t. Some teams are progressive and highly valued, some less so.
Finding the time to review your communication and engagement team to ensure its efficacy now and whether it is fit for the future is important. Anticipating the skills of the future, tapping industry trends and an independent perspective can often help.