The new CEO: Chief Engagement Officer
Last week, I was at the Practical Internal Communication Congress as a stand holder and sponsor of Engage Dialog. Naturally, I attended a number of substantive sessions there too. I am not a communications professional, but I do have experience with it on the basis of my employment record, so I was curious about modern insights in this field.
What I discovered was that, more than ever, the human factor is the guiding theme. Take the coffee breaks, the personal meetings, the role of the information organisation. But also the sometimes very low-tech approach that is needed in order to reach certain people in, for instance, retail or health care in the communicative field. A simple leaflet or poster can then suddenly be an excellent tool. But it was primarily about the contact itself! Other themes concerned (preventing) information stress, the right communication method and progressing from informing to interacting.
I was pleasantly surprised by this development. It seems that the modern communication profession is more at the service of modern leadership principles, organisation development and cultural change than ever. In that sense, the emergence of social intranet and mobile communication is relevant, because this makes it possible to interact measurably and to keep a finger more closely on the ‘pulse’ of the organisation.
Focus on people
I have been calling for some time for a focus on people in organisations. Both in and between organisations, the employees make the difference, even if we are in the middle of a digital transformation era. We all have unique characteristics, skills and relationships (which can only partly be captured in systems). Making the best possible use of these is the key to success. It has been proved that ‘employee engagement’ leads to ‘customer engagement’ and thus ultimately to realising better business results. Facilitating personal contacts and collaboration in a natural way has therefore become of the greatest importance. Exchanging and finding each other’s (unique) knowledge and ideas, within and outside your organisation, is the important business catalyst. And so is being able to collaborate smoothly in order to develop these. What remains is attention to informal communication.
From CCO to Chief Engagement Officer
I have reached my conclusion: a Chief Digital of Chief Communications Officer is not what we need most. Communication, digital or otherwise, is just a way to achieve goals such as higher productivity, efficiency and, above all, engagement. For fortunately, even in the era of the digital transformation, it is still people who make the difference. I am therefore calling for the (new) CEO: the Chief Engagement Officer. Creating successful engagement among staff, suppliers, partners and customers will have a positive impact on the future success of your company, and not a small one either. And ‘to engage’ really is a verb. Management will have to accept taking a vulnerable and communicative position in order to achieve, under the leadership of ‘the new CEO’.
NB: Obviously, it helps if the collaboration solution that you choose materially supports this goal. It is then about measurable improvement of collaboration and about relevant and personal communication. I would be happy to exchange ideas on that with you. But it will only be a success if the point of departure is right: empowering your employees and giving priority to interpersonal relationships.