Large companies are going through challenging times, both from a business and organizational standpoints. These turbulences are hitting in a particular way old, large corporations because of their limited appetence for change.
Top-down / hierarchical / controlling and risk-avoidance company cultures but also lack of diversity in executive teams, intense competitive and financial pressure for short-term results, an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment and stringent procedures for products development & production, are all contributing to the situation. Employee disengagement is reaching worrying levels, as if the current work environment didn’t provide the motivational aspirations and perspectives it did in the past.
To address those challenges, companies have to reconnect with their stakeholders and find ways to trigger their active support. Employees have to be capable, motivated, aligned, aware of their business environment, fully engaged – not just doing their job. Customers, decision makers, media etc. should be inclined to view companies as trustworthy, innovative, likeable partners.
From broadcasting to conversations
Outdated paradigms don’t generate engagement; but positive disruption approaches do.
Although innovative, it is possible even for a large, old company to move from “corporate broadcasting” to “organizational conversations”, i.e. to incorporate stakeholders into strategic decisions, to leverage social media tools and community-based approaches, to build a strong change management capability. Pilot projects and experiments are often already taking place in various parts of the organization. What is needed today is to strengthen and professionalize these scattered efforts and impact the corporate culture.
A clever way to achieve this is to create an organizational focus on Engagement, as a key performance driver.
At the crossroads of innovation, internal and external communications, advocacy, and commercial operations, Stakeholder Engagement enables companies to re-invent themselves while co-creating value within an ecosystem of interconnected, mobilized constituents.
Stakeholder Engagement should aim at developing and executing broad-based programs of community engagement that advance the company’s mission, in conjunction with major social, economical and political institutions and programs that can be related to it.
It should lead in the development of strategies to convene and engage leaders of key institutions but also internal staff and members of the civil society, around issues and opportunities impacting the common good. Its scope should encompass the development and dissemination of key messages and information that feed the conversation with stakeholders and support the company’s mission.
How to push this forward? Create an Engagement position.
To successfully play its disruptive role, this position should not be plugged in any of the existing boxes: Communications, Marketing, Advocacy, Digital Strategy… It should rather be understood as an independent (neutral) cross-silo operation that will be entitled to design and implement disruptive approaches. It should be kept agile and visible.
If the company is really serious about it, it should send the message by appointing a Chief Engagement Officer.
This position should be responsible for:
- Direct engagement strategy, through stakeholder initiatives, campaigns, events and social media activities.
- Development of the on-line corporate brand. Management of communities and development of on-line dialog with stakeholders.
- Development and coordination of engagement, collaboration and open innovation initiatives throughout the company, including initiatives with external stakeholders in relation with vaccination advocacy.
- Continuous research for innovative engagement strategies and tools, and implementation of pilot projects. Supervision of pilot engagement initiatives that can be replicated in other areas of business.
- Internal education on engagement best practices. Deployment of training & templates over international markets.
- Facilitation of cross-department collaboration to leverage impact internally and externally
Required skills for the position:
- Successful track record in community engagement
- Strong social media skills
- Good knowledge of the company and existing informal networks
- Business + policy + communication background
- International exposure (for a global business)
- Social skills, self started, achiever
Ready to hire a Chief Engagement Officer? Have one already? I’d love to hear about your experience.