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Channel Manager to Strategic Operator ….. some thoughts and reflections from Hamish Davidson ….. some thoughts and reflections from Hamish Davidson Entrepreneurs.

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Presentation on theme: "Channel Manager to Strategic Operator ….. some thoughts and reflections from Hamish Davidson ….. some thoughts and reflections from Hamish Davidson Entrepreneurs."— Presentation transcript:

1 Channel Manager to Strategic Operator ….. some thoughts and reflections from Hamish Davidson ….. some thoughts and reflections from Hamish Davidson Entrepreneurs in Action

2 INTRODUCTION Personally, I am a believer in talent of the best of comms folk Personally, I am a believer in talent of the best of comms folk But… But… –…I am not typical of recruiters/headhunters –… and I am most certainly not typical of the attitudes of most public sector employers

3 If you wanna be a ‘strategic operators’, you have to face some uncomfortable truths and overcome a number of hurdles: 1) Being one 1) Being one 2) Being ‘seen’ and ‘perceived’ to be one 2) Being ‘seen’ and ‘perceived’ to be one 3) If it ‘is’ technically possible in your organisation to one 3) If it ‘is’ technically possible in your organisation to one 4) And if it isn’t …? 4) And if it isn’t …?

4 SO, SOME SELF-ACTUALISATION AND SCENE SETTING

5 CONTEXT First task - define ‘strategic operator’. First task - define ‘strategic operator’. For a current Head of Comms – moving to a Director of Comms role? For a current Head of Comms – moving to a Director of Comms role? For those seeking to break free of the 'comms' yoke - any strategic role? For those seeking to break free of the 'comms' yoke - any strategic role? For the first, there are a number of people who have made that leap. A few of you are here today. For the first, there are a number of people who have made that leap. A few of you are here today. For the second, within the public sector – sadly, examples exist, but they are very rare indeed. For the second, within the public sector – sadly, examples exist, but they are very rare indeed.

6 TRANSFERABLE SKILLS This takes us into the realms of transferable skills to these strategic roles – and what are they? This takes us into the realms of transferable skills to these strategic roles – and what are they? Odd thing is that people rarely seem to identify the skills they pick up in comms roles that can be of use elsewhere Odd thing is that people rarely seem to identify the skills they pick up in comms roles that can be of use elsewhere

7 PURPOSE OF COMMS Underlying purpose of a comms function and a Head of Comms Underlying purpose of a comms function and a Head of Comms Surely, it's to help deliver corporate policies and objectives. Which means: KPI setting, delivery planning and channel planning have to be core skills. Surely, it's to help deliver corporate policies and objectives. Which means: KPI setting, delivery planning and channel planning have to be core skills.

8 PURPOSE OF COMMS #2 A lot of the work undertaken within what is traditionally taken to be covered by comms (and most certainly, marketing) includes things like: objective setting, audience segmentation, insight generation, behavioural mapping, intervention planning, trend and stakeholder analysis, customer journey mapping, econometrics, evaluation, identifying return on investment etc. A lot of the work undertaken within what is traditionally taken to be covered by comms (and most certainly, marketing) includes things like: objective setting, audience segmentation, insight generation, behavioural mapping, intervention planning, trend and stakeholder analysis, customer journey mapping, econometrics, evaluation, identifying return on investment etc. These don't sound like classic 'comms' functions and they are not These don't sound like classic 'comms' functions and they are not

9 DO COMMS FOLK SELL THEMSELVES SHORT? Probably Probably A need to change the language / nomenclature / taxonomy of what comms folk do? A need to change the language / nomenclature / taxonomy of what comms folk do? Not just semantics, but a matter of changing how comms folk work with others and most critically, how others regard comms people. Not just semantics, but a matter of changing how comms folk work with others and most critically, how others regard comms people.

10 DO COMMS FOLK SELL THEMSELVES SHORT? Arguably, everything that the best comms teams deliver will be done through the prism of delivery, efficiency and effectiveness Arguably, everything that the best comms teams deliver will be done through the prism of delivery, efficiency and effectiveness And the tension of being, or perceived as being, or allowing yourselves to be perceived as being - spinners & propagandists for the organisation and/or Chief Executive, versus being, and being seen to be - honest at all times in internal and external communications And the tension of being, or perceived as being, or allowing yourselves to be perceived as being - spinners & propagandists for the organisation and/or Chief Executive, versus being, and being seen to be - honest at all times in internal and external communications

11 ARE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COMMS IN THE PRIVATE VERSUS PUBLIC SECTORS, RELEVANT TO THIS TOPIC? Yes - one theme that occurs across disciplines within the top levels of the private sector…

12 Private v’s public - the reality is: There is more readiness to promote from within There is more readiness to promote from within There is more readiness to see a period in comms (or any function) as merely part of an ongoing investment by an employer in overall career development There is more readiness to see a period in comms (or any function) as merely part of an ongoing investment by an employer in overall career development There is more readiness to look at underlying transferable skill sets rather than, as most of the public sector does across most of the various disciplines, obsessing about a track record of direct experience in that discipline. There is more readiness to look at underlying transferable skill sets rather than, as most of the public sector does across most of the various disciplines, obsessing about a track record of direct experience in that discipline.

13 Private v’s public - the reality is: One does not see the same silo effect and therefore stunting, restricting and blocking of talent in the private sector to anything like the extent that we witness in the public sector … One does not see the same silo effect and therefore stunting, restricting and blocking of talent in the private sector to anything like the extent that we witness in the public sector …

14 NARRATIVES Comms folk tend to be less effective than most at justifying what they do Comms folk tend to be less effective than most at justifying what they do A common failure to translate impact into monetary or other terms A common failure to translate impact into monetary or other terms If comms functions are not rigorous and disciplined in what they do and how results are measured and achieved and to what effect, then why indeed should anyone else be interested in – or respect the function? If comms functions are not rigorous and disciplined in what they do and how results are measured and achieved and to what effect, then why indeed should anyone else be interested in – or respect the function?

15 NARRATIVES The true partners of Comms folk are those making and leading on policy and strategic business development and decision making The true partners of Comms folk are those making and leading on policy and strategic business development and decision making Heads of Comms need to ensure that within their organisations, they operate, at the very least, at this level Heads of Comms need to ensure that within their organisations, they operate, at the very least, at this level

16 CRITICAL PARTNERS Who do you work with the most - both internally and externally Who do you work with the most - both internally and externally What functions and specialisms? What functions and specialisms? Why and to what effect? Why and to what effect? Identifying the contribution comms makes to the organisation Identifying the contribution comms makes to the organisation Always being conscious that comms is a tool, rather than an end in itself. Always being conscious that comms is a tool, rather than an end in itself. In the private sector, the critical links are going to be with marketing, sales, public affairs (if separate), investor relations, strategy and HR In the private sector, the critical links are going to be with marketing, sales, public affairs (if separate), investor relations, strategy and HR

17 THE COMMS FUNCTION, AND THE HEAD OF COMMS IN PARTICULAR, NEEDS TO BE TRUSTED – BY THE LEADERSHIP OF THE ORGANISATION I am not saying liked I am not saying liked I am saying ‘trusted’ I am saying ‘trusted’ And ‘respected’ helps too And ‘respected’ helps too

18 THE COMMS FUNCTION, AND THE HEAD OF COMMS IN PARTICULAR, NEEDS TO BE TRUSTED – BY THE LEADERSHIP OF THE ORGANISATION It’s the blinkered public sector employers with their obsession on qualifications and track record rather than transferable skills and values – who are making the appointments. That’s ‘one’ of the significant hurdles that you face It’s the blinkered public sector employers with their obsession on qualifications and track record rather than transferable skills and values – who are making the appointments. That’s ‘one’ of the significant hurdles that you face Personally, I will be more interested in finding excellent ‘people’ people and excellent strategists – with superb instincts Personally, I will be more interested in finding excellent ‘people’ people and excellent strategists – with superb instincts

19 JOB TITLE – IS IT HEAD OF COMMUNICATION – OR COMMUNICATONS? Most Heads of Comms call themselves 'Head of Communications'. Plural Most Heads of Comms call themselves 'Head of Communications'. Plural But 'communications' is the output, the channels (a leaflet, a press release, a video etc) But 'communications' is the output, the channels (a leaflet, a press release, a video etc) 'Head of Communication' – singular, the discipline, the process, the business tool? 'Head of Communication' – singular, the discipline, the process, the business tool? Your business card lately? What does it say? Your business card lately? What does it say?

20 BUT – EVEN IF YOU GET THROUGH THE LONGLISTING; EVEN IF YOU GET THROUGH PEOPLE LIKE ME; AND EVEN IF YOU GET THROUGH THE SHORTLISTING – YOU STILL HAVE A MAJOR HURDLE TO OVERCOME – THE PANEL

21 The Appointments Panel What a truly ridiculous and clunky manner in which to make senior recruiting decisions What idiot invented this daft system?

22 Appointments Panel –40 minutes in front of the panel - if you are lucky –Set questions, in a set format – & often no follow-ups –An environment that constrains you –Yet your challenge is actually to demonstrate the breadth of your styles and personality –A reluctance to ask you the direct and personal questions they ought to ask – for fear you’ll complain; or for some perverted equal opps reason

23 Appointments Panel #2 –The impact of the Legion of the Damned –Discussing concerns and issues about you at the wash-up that they never asked you at interview. Ridiculous! –Obsessed with size of budgets and staff –Tending to conservative (small ‘c’) decisions and appointing to the lowest common denominator that they can all agree upon –Prone to not take risks – and tending to make the ‘safe’ as opposed to inspired appointment

24 Appointments Panel #3 –Cynical – and prone to assume stereotypes re comms folk –Prone to rescue defeat from the jaws of victory –And … CEO’s tend not to get it either

25 Taken all in all, it’s an absolute nightmare

26 SO, TO SUMMARISE THIS TRULY MISERABLE ANALYSIS …..

27 From the viewpoint of landing a strategic operator role: Most public sector employers are … Most public sector employers are … –narrow minded and bigoted when it comes to making strategic operator appointments –obsess with past narrow experience and directly applicable skills –put you in your silo –have a real problem seeing you in any capacity outside of that silo

28 From the viewpoint of landing a strategic operator role #2 Most appointment panels are … Most appointment panels are … –conservative and risk averse when it comes to making appointments –tend to appoint to the lowest common denominator –underestimate the talent pool available from that sector

29 From the viewpoint of landing a strategic operator role #3 CEO’s, generally speaking … CEO’s, generally speaking … –don’t rate the comms talent pool that much either

30 From the viewpoint of landing a strategic operator role #4 Most recruiters …. Most recruiters …. –are as bigoted and narrow minded as the employers –will tend not to see you as the obvious candidate for these strategic roles –with very few exceptions, they will not tend to fight your case for you with their client

31 From the view point of you selling yourselves … You, as a pool of talent … You, as a pool of talent … –tend to undersell yourselves –tend not to focus sufficiently on your transferable skills –tend not to plan on how to ‘beat the system’ that is heavily loaded against you landing strategic operator roles –tend not to work out a strategy for seizing every opportunity to convert yourself into a strategic operator

32 But fear not …. You are not unique as a discipline in making these mistakes – legal and HR have been there before you You are not unique as a discipline in making these mistakes – legal and HR have been there before you Ironically, though, because of the incredibly wide coverage of your discipline, you have more opportunity that those two disciplines to do something about it … should you choose to do so Ironically, though, because of the incredibly wide coverage of your discipline, you have more opportunity that those two disciplines to do something about it … should you choose to do so

33 OK. IT’S A NIGHTMARE. SO, WHAT TO DO IF I STILL WANNA BE A STRATEGIC OPERATOR? Two strands: Two strands: - The interview - Developing yourself

34 SO, WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO DO AT INTERVIEW IN ORDER TO CHALLENGE THE STEREOTYPE VIEWS OF COMMS FOLK? Pre-think what issues ‘you’ would ask ‘you’ about? Pre-think what issues ‘you’ would ask ‘you’ about? Pre-think what weaknesses you have or might be perceived to have Pre-think what weaknesses you have or might be perceived to have Have answers ready for all of these Have answers ready for all of these Hijack some questions so as to give answers to questions they ought to have asked you Hijack some questions so as to give answers to questions they ought to have asked you

35 SO, WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO DO AT INTERVIEW IN ORDER TO CHALLENGE THE STEREOTYPE VIEWS OF COMMS FOLK? #2 For every question you are asked, give a strategic answer and then two, practical, on the ground examples to back up your answer, if possible from beyond the comms remit For every question you are asked, give a strategic answer and then two, practical, on the ground examples to back up your answer, if possible from beyond the comms remit Show that you have a greater breadth and perspective than most (preferably, all) of the other candidates Show that you have a greater breadth and perspective than most (preferably, all) of the other candidates

36 Building your credibility for these strategic operator appointments Get mentors from different sectors Get mentors from different sectors Get a coach Get a coach Develop your networks Develop your networks What are you reading? Expand it. Books, newspapers and periodicals, blogs What are you reading? Expand it. Books, newspapers and periodicals, blogs Build, invest in, nurture and protect your personal brand and reputation Build, invest in, nurture and protect your personal brand and reputation

37 Building your credibility for these strategic operator appointments #2 Teach yourself to be ‘ethical’ in how you behave; and learn how to manage ‘boundaries’ Teach yourself to be ‘ethical’ in how you behave; and learn how to manage ‘boundaries’ Become famous, rather than infamous Become famous, rather than infamous Write articles Write articles Develop your personal website Develop your personal website Speak at events Speak at events

38 Building your credibility for these strategic operator appointments #3 Build a reputation for recruiting and developing future stars Build a reputation for recruiting and developing future stars Never, ever delegate recruitment Never, ever delegate recruitment Learn to have the confidence to give power away; gain influence instead – and the space to do other things Learn to have the confidence to give power away; gain influence instead – and the space to do other things Who do you want to work for? Cultivate them Who do you want to work for? Cultivate them What organisations do you want to work for? Research them and the key players and cultivate them too. Get known to their CX’s What organisations do you want to work for? Research them and the key players and cultivate them too. Get known to their CX’s

39 Building your credibility for these strategic operator appointments #4 Which recruiters do these organisations use? Which recruiters do these organisations use? Who in your sector gets rung up and sourced most often – get to know them Who in your sector gets rung up and sourced most often – get to know them Address your known skills gaps Address your known skills gaps More important - address your unknown skills gaps - get people you trust and/or respect (even if you don’t like them) to tell you about them More important - address your unknown skills gaps - get people you trust and/or respect (even if you don’t like them) to tell you about them Never stop doing courses – Harvard, MBA programme, Common Purpose, leadership programmes Never stop doing courses – Harvard, MBA programme, Common Purpose, leadership programmes

40 Building your credibility for these strategic operator appointments #5 Recruit the best teams to do yourself out of your current job Recruit the best teams to do yourself out of your current job Move into the danger zone – and out of your comfort zone Move into the danger zone – and out of your comfort zone Seek secondments Seek secondments Volunteer for tough projects and assignments Volunteer for tough projects and assignments Volunteer to take on more responsibilities, especially outside of your current remit Volunteer to take on more responsibilities, especially outside of your current remit

41 Building your credibility for these strategic operator appointments #6 Learn and understand what being ‘corporate’ means Learn and understand what being ‘corporate’ means Learn and understand about ‘finance’ and ‘budgets’ Learn and understand about ‘finance’ and ‘budgets’ Learn and understand about ‘leadership’ Learn and understand about ‘leadership’ Learn and understand about ‘transformation’ and ‘change’, and being an ‘agile leader’, and why ‘resilience’ is so important Learn and understand about ‘transformation’ and ‘change’, and being an ‘agile leader’, and why ‘resilience’ is so important Learn about ‘managing’ and ‘leading’ through ‘inspiring and leading others though adversity’, rather than through doing personally Learn about ‘managing’ and ‘leading’ through ‘inspiring and leading others though adversity’, rather than through doing personally Dress, look, sound like and act like you have already moved on to that broader strategic operator role, rather than some PR hack Dress, look, sound like and act like you have already moved on to that broader strategic operator role, rather than some PR hack

42 ABOVE ALL …. Strive to be ‘authentic’ in all that you do and say; live the values and behaviours that are important to you Strive to be ‘authentic’ in all that you do and say; live the values and behaviours that are important to you If you are truly intent on gaining that wider role, it is easier to be promoted from within supported by those that know you – than to land a role elsewhere from people who don’t know you If you are truly intent on gaining that wider role, it is easier to be promoted from within supported by those that know you – than to land a role elsewhere from people who don’t know you Remember always that if you are not the obvious ‘on paper’ candidate for a role, then you really need to be recommended Remember always that if you are not the obvious ‘on paper’ candidate for a role, then you really need to be recommended Therefore, network like hell – cause this is the real key to getting on and up Therefore, network like hell – cause this is the real key to getting on and up

43 ABOVE ALL …. #2 In every way that you conduct yourself, challenge those stereotype views of the limitations of comms folk In every way that you conduct yourself, challenge those stereotype views of the limitations of comms folk And to repeat – dress, look, sound and act like you have already moved on to that broader role And to repeat – dress, look, sound and act like you have already moved on to that broader role –Perceptions are reality –If you wanna be a strategic operator – you need to change your reality and other people’s perceptions and misperceptions

44 Thank you …. …and good luck Hamish Davidson Entrepreneurs in Action M:


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