Does organisational structure really matter?
Recently, I attended the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Queensland Speed Networking event. I was asked, in addition to the usual mingling and connecting, to ask a special question. It’s a curious question, and one I’d only recently had an interesting debate on with one of my industry peers.
Using a very well planned out (back of a piece of paper and a pen I borrowed), I set about asking the new connections I met what their thoughts are on the topic. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in teams with a deep hierarchy, and teams with a flat structure. I’ve sat in comms teams who reported to HR, Organisational Development and External Communications. I feel like that has equipped me to have an informed opinion.
The results weren’t super surprising to the attendees when I reported back.
- 60% said it needs to report to the top dog in the business – so the CEO, Managing Director or Director-General
- 20% said it should report into a Marketing / Communications Director Position
- 4% said it should be any of the senior leaders, and
- 16% said it doesn’t matter! (including my own response)
The biggest surprise to me was that no one suggested the HR / People and Culture / Organisational Development. In my experience being an integrated part of the corporate “people” function can translate into some excellent alignment and engagement outcomes.
I am a believer that it doesn’t matter – that the role and function of internal and corporate communicators is undergoing rapid change.
Communicators all over the world are breaking the mold of “what has been” and are creating their new destiny, transforming their businesses and leading by example when they are brave enough, and empowered enough to take a chance. When their leaders believe in them as people, and embrace the value they bring to strategically important business strategy issues. And when they are savvy connectors and influencers. To me, that’s when the ‘structure’ becomes less relevant.
But of course, not every business is ready to embrace this philosophy.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the reporting relationship matters?
If you had the ability to influence the organisational design, where would you best place the communications function?