When a seat at the table doesn’t require a seat at the table

A recent report from CiB in the UK cites 87% of communication managers as believing that the should not be part of Human Resource functions.

This is an interesting result and a contentious debate from where I sit. As a communicator who has had reporting lines via public affairs, human resources, shared services, corporate communications and marketing, I can sayt that while the experience can be variable according to placement, the skill and relationship building ability of the communicator is paramount regardless of reporting line.

As for the argument that employee communication should be a direct report to the CEO, there are reasonable cases for both sides. From a span of control perspective, if the CEO’s direct reports were only those roles that required a strong relationship, close partnership and that could impact their results, it would be a very large executive team. While a head of corporate communication with responsibility for internal, external and stakeholder relations may need to be a report to the CEO, the argument is less strong for the role of internal communication. What is undisputed is the need for direct access to the CEO in order to understand their priorities, preferences and peculiarities. Also undisputed is the need for communication (both internal and external) to have a seat at the strategic decision-making table.

The reality is that employee communication is a specialist advisor function. It does not do the industry any favours to have the old petulant argument that we need to be a direct report – we need to be able to create the partnerships to achieve regardless of structure.

This is also explored at the IABC Employee Communication Blog


Human Capital Institute Blogosphere – Discussions on the roles of leaders

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