Running Lean (part 2): 6 Tips for Communications Leaders with Limited Resources
Updated: Jul 11, 2019
Last week I discussed the tendency for foreign MNCs to run with lean communications functions in Asia (read here). This week I take a look at the ways that communications leaders can both stake a claim for more resources, as well as maximise that which they already have.
It goes without saying that every company is different and investment in resource will always be driven by the value of the need, but these are some general tips that we at Taylor Bennett Heyman would offer to any communications leader who is short on resources:
Quantify your need for more resources. Assess the percentage of revenue/profits that are generated within your region or markets. In a well-balanced business, the headcount for a function like communications is always going to be larger in the biggest profit centres. If there is a case to be made for more resources in your region, this should be your starting point.
Leverage the importance of business critical markets when requesting additional resources. Regional centres tend to be a more expensive model to run and businesses are inclined to keep these as lean as possible. In most businesses, regional centres are not where the money is made. It may therefore be easier to get buy-in for increased headcount if the resource is appointed in a particular market which is seen as critical to the business. If positioned adequately, you may then be able to include responsibilities for other markets in their remit. This obviously requires the buy-in of the market-level business, as the headcount would invariably sit under their cost centre.
Create a pseudo-regional unit. If you already have people dedicated to the function in some markets across the region, then you may be able to create a pseudo-regional unit. One model that we have seen work well is the establishment of functional knowledge sharing networks, whereby people in markets take the lead for a particular subject, issue or theme relevant to the region and business at large.
Make the most of your agency resource. If you have agency support across the region, then learning how to get the most out of that partnership is vital. Investing the time in educating them about your business, what you expect from them, and giving clear direction will help them to help you.
Build relationships at the group level. Stronger relationships with functional colleagues at the global centre can allow you to better draw on their support. With them onside, heavier tasks can become lighter, e.g. by sharing toolkits that can be easily adapted to meet the regional and market needs.
Prioritise your time and manage expectations. If your resources are limited, prioritisation and expectation management are probably the two most important factors to consider. Limited resources mean you must determine and focus on the things that matter most, i.e. those that will bring most benefit to the business. Managing stakeholder expectations within this frame is also imperative. You must be prepared to push back and make clear to stakeholders exactly what your role is. This way, you can avoid being called in to support on anything and everything.
By Sarah Crawshaw (Managing Director, Asia Pacific)