Are you giving your team the skills to thrive?
The blurring of lines - are you giving your team the skills to thrive?
As a consultant at VMAGROUP I spend my days talking to Directors of Communications across all sectors and industries. A regular theme is how best to develop their team and deploy, often stretched, resources appropriately. This is backed up in our bi-annual Business Leaders in Communications Study. One of the key discussion topics of this year’s report has been whether communications directors should employ specialists or generalists.
In other words should you build a team based around functional disciplines or should all of your team be able to write a press release, organise a town hall and contribute to the Twitter feed?
A Group Corporate Affairs Director of a leading retail bank said to me recently, “I would rather have a strong bench of communicators than several individuals with one strength."
Not all communications directors agree of course and there are certain areas where this just isn’t appropriate. For example, there is strong case to be made on the regulatory and IR side that you do need specialists. However, it is an interesting point to consider. Will VMA be looking for candidates with a good blend of internal, external and digital skills in 2015? Should Communications Directors be ensuring that their media relations team spends time in the internal communications department and vice versa?
We have all talked about the convergence of skills for many years. For example, there are less and less internal communications teams reporting to HR departments these days. It makes sense to bring all of the communications disciplines together particularly when you have messages that need to reach multiple stakeholders, both internal and external.
Not only is there a business need for multi skilled professionals but we are also seeing more candidates that want to broaden their experience out of one niche discipline. Increasingly your average manager within a communications function is being asked to take on additional responsibilities and they often feel that they haven’t had the requisite experience to lead a digital marketing campaign.
If you do move your team around the department they feel that they are developing and learning new skills. In addition they are better able to support you and the business.
There are consequences of course of having a multi-skilled team. There may be more people who feel ready to do your role for example. There will also be members of your team who are deeply resistant to a secondment in another division of your team. However, if this trend continues, it looks as if candidates won’t have any choice if they want to progress their careers.