Management involves getting your message across, what you want doing
, how you want it doing and by when, your expectations of
employees/team members behaviour and attitude, or in senior management
speak the mission, the values and the targets.
Communication came within my portfolio of responsibilities. The Head
of Communications was part of my management team. Communication, like
HR is a support service helping managers do what needs to be done. The
Communication team supported senior managers in getting their messages
across to a range of audiences internal and external. And they also
passed messages from employees to senior managers by organising the
biannual employee survey and employee engagement forums. This dual
role highlighted two problems, the first was that senior managers
weren’t always clear what the message was, secondly the senior
management team had a tendency to shoot the messenger!
Senior managers often confused the medium with the message. If they
wanted to launch the Business Plan or publicise the Annual Report they
would say over to you communication team. To which the response would
come back do you want to do Road Shows, what do you want us to put on
the website, do you want a glossy simplifed version for the public,
what about partner agencies? Even worse Communication would say
something like, “ we wouldn’t start from here”. Meaning what
consultation took place in drawing up the Business Plan and does the
Annual Report take account of employee feedback and issues or
suggestions that came out of the engagement groups? What are the
messages from the plan/ report that that senior managers wanted to
tailor to specific employee groups, partner agencies or providers.
All too often senior managers thought their role was to produce the
document and have the board endorse it the rest was up to “
communications”. I think this is the equivalent of leaving the
management of absenteeism to HR! Communications can advise on the
medium, they can help tailor the message to different audiences but
they can’t be expected to decide what the message should be.
Blair Mcpherson former Director author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk