Be A Business Enabler. Not A Fringe Player

My previous post – ‘Why Is My Contribution Not Taken Seriously?’  received many thought provoking insights from readers.

Most felt Tony needed a better understanding of his role, seek feedback and put a plan, work with the goals in mind, prioritize his assignments, gain commitment from leaders, solicit ideas from employees, engage more with stakeholders and provide creative, value additions to the business.

Thank you everyone for contributing.

To me, managing birthday lists and anniversaries is best left to managers who lead teams. That’s working on the fringe and won’t get a communicator much respect or attention from leaders. After a while, most stakeholders will end up doing their own stuff leaving you out in the cold.


If you aren’t thinking of your business there is little chance that your communication initiatives will add value to stakeholders in any form or shape.

How do you know if you are a fringe player or a business enabler?

It boils down to how deeply connected you are with how the business works and what drives the organization.  Check if your communication is linked to what you are delivering to your customers.

Gauge if your business involves you in discussions early in the life cycle or comes to you at the very end when they need the communication to ‘go out’. If it is the former, your team and you are valued. If it is the latter, you have a serious issue on hand, which needs addressing.

How often are you sought for opinions and guidance on what works best?

Does your organization engage you to gather insights and perspectives on the ‘pulse’ of employees?

What can you do to make communication core to your business?

  • Don’t lose sight of your business focus, why you exist as an organization. Ask why your communication team exists. Is it contributing to your business’s focus areas or to overcome the inadequacies that exist within the organization? If it is the latter, you need to reconsider your role.
  • Use insights to drive decision making and to steer conversations on communication interventions.
  • Embed yourself in the business and understand how your organization makes profits. Ask: What guides business thinking? What challenges leaders and employees face each day while delivering their work?
  • Before you communicate any program evaluate if it aligns with your company’s purpose, that you have demonstrated a link to the values your organization stands for and how you expect employees to live the brand and how authentic you are in your tone of voice.

With business context comes respect for the role since you can hold a sensible conversation on the impact and value of communication.

Seek opportunities to be on the frontline and observe the dynamics at play while business gets done. You may even end up spotting many ways of adding value over and above what communication can do.

It helps to demonstrate business acumen. Get communication to be central to your organization’s agenda.



Why Is My Contribution Not Taken Seriously?

Tony is getting into the groove in his new role. He is raring to go with his solid planning and implementation skills that landed him his prized job with Willow Ltd., one of the largest sports equipment manufacturers in the country. With offices in 5 cities and clients around the world Tony has his hands full with corporate communication responsibilities. He is expected to deliver consistent employee communication across all locations, raise the brand presence and keep media engaged on Willow’s innings in the country. After a few months on the role Tony finds the going tough and wonders why he isn’t gaining the confidence of leaders. He finds his communication projects floundering. He decides to talk to his friend Amy, a seasoned communicator from a pharmaceutical company. They had worked together in earlier assignments and he felt that Amy could throw some light on his dilemma.

Here is what they spoke.

Amy: “You looked quite stressed. This is unlike you?”

Tony: “It hasn’t been going well. I wanted this role and job but somehow things aren’t how I envisaged.”

Amy: “You mean the role isn’t working?”


Tony: “It isn’t that – the role is great.  I have done a lot over the last few months but strangely it doesn’t add up to much. I am available to stakeholders, I respond on time, I ensure they get what they need, I go out of the way to help and yet……”

Amy: “Take it easy. What were your priorities?”

Tony: “I am responsible for public relations, leadership communication and lots of employee engagement. That is what I am expected to do. I have been executing many assignments – such as communicating birthdays and anniversaries, creating newsletters, publishing communication, planning celebratory lunches for teams and giving leaders what they need in terms of information.”

Amy: “Is that what the leaders want? Does it help your organization?”

Tony: “In my conversations, they keep saying we must do many things to engage employees and the media professionals. They suggested creating a format to acknowledge employees birthdays and special days, branding our meeting rooms, printing leaflets on our policies, creating collateral for marketing among others. Willow as a sports manufacturer is kind of well-known and our leaders are very busy travelling to even give inputs on communication.”

Amy: “How do you know this works?”

Tony: “That is a tough one – there isn’t a way to gauge the value of any of these actions. We assume employees will feel good and they will reciprocate with their commitment and loyalty. Likewise, leaders will appreciate the hard work I put in. We do run an annual survey and that gives us an idea of how employees feel”.

Amy: “That sounds like a long shot at engagement or stakeholder management. Have you recommended ways to do more for the business?”

Tony: “Well, I have been pitching in when asked. Leaders expect us to support their communication and that is what I do.”

Amy realizes that Tony is meandering along but isn’t sure how to guide him. What advice do you have for Tony? How can he get his role on track and add value?

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