Why considering the structure of your communications resources is important
Have you ever thought about reporting structure and how it affects your ability to do your job?
Where people reside within an organization; who their colleagues are; who they report to – these are all very important aspects of how successful a person can be in their day-to-day duties.
In this blog, I share my thoughts on the importance of the structure of communications resources. Specifically, I’m referring to internal, strategic communications resources that provide support to operational teams (which I refer to as “clients”).
In my past, I experienced two very different types of reporting structures while performing basically the same function, as an internal corporate communications resource. When I started out, I sat with the client team I was in charge of supporting for all of their communications needs, but reported to a central, corporate services-like resource. This meant that, though I still had access to my corporate communications colleagues for information and support, I was actually “in the thick of things” with my client teams, working with them to ensure they were fully supported in their communications needs. During objective performance reviews, the Director of my client team provided the majority of the input towards my evaluation since we worked so closely together. Makes sense, right?
Then, after a massive organization-wide transformation and re-structuring, all of the corporate communications resources were centralized, reporting to one corporate vice-president and residing together in offices (where possible; dependent on the city). This meant that although I was well positioned to access my communications colleagues’ experience/knowledge, I was physically and mentally far away from my client, supporting them virtually. The personal connection suffered and during objective performance reviews, my client actually had very little say in my evaluation even though they were the ones I was technically working for.
There is no doubt that I preferred the first structure. You could call it personal preference, since I had colleagues that preferred to be removed from their clients, but more than personal preference, I believe sitting with my client teams enabled me to be much more successful in my role. By extension – it meant my client teams were much more successful in communications with their people which, considering the amount of transformation they were undergoing, was a top priority.
Not only did it make sense to me to sit within and understand the culture, experiences, changes, projects, initiatives, challenges taking place in the team that I was supporting, but it also instilled a sort of ownership and accountability. I personally wanted to see them be successful, and knowing I had a hand in that was extremely compelling.
Here is my top 5 list that further expands on why I believe the structure of communications is so important, and more specifically why I advocate for locating them within the client teams they support (when possible):
- Intimate knowledge of the details of projects, initiatives, changes, daily ongoings of the client team
- Ability to form closer, more personal relationships (part of the team; an “insider” versus an “outsider”)
- Physical proximity – access to real-time information and key resources for collaboration, information gathering/sharing, feedback, etc
- Visibility – reminds people you are there to support them (invites to key meetings etc)
- Vested interest and ownership of outcomes and success
All of these reasons can equate to one glaring benefit: better quality products and services. And when we’re dealing with communications, better quality products and services lead to a much more successful outcome for all – employees, management and executives alike
Jessica is a business consultant with over ten years of experience working in both public and private sectors. Her ability to understand the clients perspective and aptitude for problem solving has led her to deliver transformational communications, change management, process improvement and performance measurement projects. Jessica is part of Systemscope’s Enterprise Renewal team.