Every functional department needs to find its rightful place in the business hierarchy. So what can you do to help it achieve the sexy status it deserves? And before you even think of saying ‘we are doing a really good job – that is what people will notice!’ – forget it. Of course you are doing a good job, and these days that is not enough, you have to show it too.
The first thing you need to do is strut your stuff, show your wares and make them want your services, in business speak – find out what you are good at, and market yourself. Rule number one – if you have a mission statement, then throw it away – it has already filled its purpose by getting you to think about what you do. It is useless to market yourselves. In fact it’s worse than useless because it often has a bad effect on others.
Put it this way – just how thrilled would you be if you got sent a copy of the Accounts Department mission statement? Would it lighten your burden? Would you think: ‘Ah! Now I at last can see their purpose in life, I will for evermore integrate with them seamlessly’?
You need to work out what you’re good at – how you impact the wider community, what are the practical things you do for them, and why do you make their life better? Next, you need an influence plan, and that should have named individuals on it representing no more than ten percent of the company. If you think a plan means putting a display board up in the canteen so everyone can see us – think again. It’s limp, unfocused and unprofessional. Your message is too important to let it dribble out to people who are grazing rather than go-getting.
If you need some help in formatting this idea, then why not ask your own marketing department? Perhaps you buy some marketing and creative services in – you may even get it for free if you sell it as part of the process of ‘getting to know you better’. Take your ten percent target, and use your carefully crafted marketing material with laser like accuracy to get up close and personal. If you make it important, then so will your target audience. This is line fishing for powerful marlin, not drift netting for common herrings.
So you‘ve got yourself a good story – but do you have the people to back it up? Is your group bursting with talent that is the envy of the rest of the organisation? If not, then you need to do something about it. The simplest tool of all is often overlooked – go find the best people and ask them to join you. Top talent is always interested in self-development. They often have the ability to persuade their own management to let them do things. Best of all, they are usually a bit vain and easily flattered.
This doesn’t have to get tangled up in job specs and grade issues, perhaps they could have some relevant work experience for a short while – or work on a joint project with you. If you can get some fresh blood into the camp, it can have a rejuvenating effect on the whole team. Start looking at the way your team does things. What impact do your people have? Not just from the point of view of their skills.
This sort of profile-raising is not going to be without its side effects which are worth heading off early if possible. Firstly when you tell people what you can do for them, you can expect the initial response to be a lengthy list of all the things you haven’t done well. This is great feedback – it may not feel like it at the time, but its gold dust. Remember, before you stimulated them into complaining, the problem was even worse because you didn’t know about it.
So where does the future lie for making your department the sexiest around?
The truth is that the skill and attractiveness of your players will make the difference. Does this mean you need only Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie look-alikes in your group? Absolutely not. Lasting attractiveness has always been more to do with passion, knowledge and focus than surface looks. And the good news is these are things that can be taught, so everyone can be sexy if they want.